Malawi’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Thomas Bisika says his top priorities are in line with Malawi foreign policy, Malawi diaspora engagement policy as well as the development blueprint — the MW2063.
Speaking with the Diplomat Magazine — a leading foreign affairs publication that provokes intelligent discussion from the heart of the diplomatic community, Bisika says he plans to “focus on development diplomacy, which is essentially trade facilitation, investment promotion, tourism repositioning, financial and technical assistance”.
“I will be advocating for the resumption of direct budgetary support as our national budget is donor dependent, and the UK is our major donor. I will also continue to advocate for resources to rebuild following Cyclone Ana and the CoVID-19 related economic meltdown.”
Bisika, who arrived in London last October is further quoted as saying “there is now a need to identify additional funds for CoVID-19 recovery” and that the “total cost for implementing the Social Economic Recovery Plan is estimated at K580 billion”.
“For our diaspora, I will focus on foreign direct investment, increasing remittances, philanthropy and brain circulation.”
Looking forward to COP27, the High Commissioner tells the Diplomat Magazine that President Lazarus Chakwera has already made the point that Malawi needs to adapt to mitigate the impact of climate change and to reduce its dependence on biomass.
“We will continue our landscaping restoration efforts and build back better and greener as we emerge from the CoVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to advocate for debt cancellation so that we can have the resources for climate change adaptation and build resilient communities.”
He further explains that Malawi has been working on addressing several areas in international relations with great success, saying “we now have a Foreign Policy and a Diaspora Engagement Policy, and soon will be rolling out dual citizenship”.
“Our only challenge is resources, which has delayed the opening of more foreign missions and even caused the closure of others. But the current administration is trying to close this gap by re-opening missions and setting up new ones.”
Dr Bisika tells the Diplomat Magazine that he and his wife are enjoying their time in the capital London, and he is quoted as saying the day he will remember most is March 3, 2022 — when he presented his letters of credence to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
“What was even more special about the occasion was that Her Majesty gave me her full attention and the ensuing conversation was a humbling experience!”
The magazine also draws special attention on Bisika background, that he is son of a police officer and housewife from a family of 12 children — seven boys and five girls.
“As the eighth born, I grew up initially with my parents but later stayed with my three brothers who went to Chancellor College, part of University of Malawi, and where I too followed.”
He narrates that he began his career as an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi in 1993, rising to become a fully-fledged Research Fellow in 1997.
“In 2005, I started at the African Union as a Chief of Division for Health, Population and HIV/AIDS. I then went to teach at University of Pretoria School of Health Systems and Public Health before joining the United Nations as a Management Specialist in UNFPA and Health Systems Advisor for World Health Organisation in South Africa and Nigeria respectively.”
In 2010, he returned to Malawi to lead their National AIDS Commission (NAC) at a time when the Global Fund had just declined Malawi’s application for more resources.
“We had to deal with a difficult scenario in which the government had adopted a policy of moving to a new HIV treatment regimen that was three times more expensive, and they had also doubled the number of patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
“We immediately reprogrammed and brought in other donors to close the gap. The new programme saw all pregnant and breastfeeding women starting ART irrespective of viral load, and HIV patients started treatment earlier.
“The results spoke for themselves — deaths declined, the number of new cases decreased, and HIV related hospitalisations were almost eliminated.”
He told the Diplomat Magazine that working with African Union and the UN gave him an “opportunity to interact with many officials and diplomats from different countries”.
“At the African Union, I worked with the Permanent Representatives Committee — essentially the grouping of Ambassadors of African Union Member States based in Addis Ababa — preparing for ministerial meetings and heads of state summits.”
At the UN, he explains that he was part of the team that drafted resolutions to be adopted by ministers, heads of state and government.
“Through these various processes I acquired skills that I now bring to my new role here in the UK.”
In 2018, High Commissioner Bisika started working as an advisor on international affairs to Chakwera before he became President and when he won the fresh presidential election in June 2020, “it pleased him to appoint me as Malawi High Commissioner to the UK, and I am very grateful”.
He was also asked on his views about Brexit, to which he replied: “The UK and Malawi relationship is not just between two governments. It is a relationship between the people of Malawi and the people of the UK.
“This relationship remains strong irrespective of what policy each country adopts. We always support each other.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :