The House of Commons in London held an adjournment debate to discuss the relationship between Scotland and Malawi, following the visit of President Peter Mutharika to the Palace of Westminster where he met with Parliamentarians including the Speaker, John Bercow MP on Monday.
Patrick Grady, Member of Parliament for Glasgow North tabled the debate to discuss a wide range of issues following fruitful interactions between President Mutharika and British Parliamentarians.
Speaking to the Mutharika’s delegation from the chamber of the House of Commons, Patrick Grady stated “Kwa inu nonse a Malawi anzanga omwe mwabwera kuno, tikulandirani ndi manja awiri. You are all most welcome on this special occasion.”
He proceeded to state that from his experience of living and working in northern Malawi, he highlighted how he found the people of Malawi and Britain share similarities, from wanting the best for their children, and children who just want to work hard for their futures.
He added: “What stands in the way of those opportunities for people in Malawi is rarely the result of decisions taken in Malawi, but, rather, deep-rooted, structural causes that we in the west must take responsibility both for bringing about and for helping to bring to an end.”
Intervening, Oliver Colvile MP Chairman of the All Party Group for Zambia and Malawi stated that not only Scotland, but England too should take serious responsibility to make sure we invest in Malawi.
“I know that part of the world incredibly well, and it is time we took a serious interest in it,” he said.
Ending his remarks, Patrick Grady began to recite the Malawi national anthem, beginning with both the Chichewa and Tumbuka version, before completing it with the English version.
Responding to Grady, James Duddridge, Minister for Africa stated that he too has a personal connection to Malawi. He told the House of Commons that his wife was raised in Malawi, and honeymooned in the country.
The Minister for Africa then added that in his view, the Scotland Malawi Partnership has three components; firstly the history; secondly that the links between the people of the two countries are strong; and thirdly governance.
However, the House of Commons also chose to highlight is that there is a gulf between the two countries on the issue of Cashgate, stating: “The UK Government are committed to ensuring that every pound of UK aid money achieves its intended results, and we maintain a zero-tolerance approach to corruption.
“We are concerned, therefore, at the weaknesses in Malawi’s financial management systems uncovered by the ‘cashgate’ scandal, which saw the theft by politicians and civil servants of funds intended for the people of Malawi. That is why, in concert with other donors, we decided to stop providing financial aid directly to the Malawian Government in November 2013.”
Said Duddridge: “We strongly support the President’s attempts to reform the economy and public services to bring about the change necessary to rebalance the Malawian economy—from one heavily supported by donors and reliant on the state to one more driven by private sector investment and entrepreneurship”.
He also said Malawi’s future needs to move beyond a heavy reliance on aid.
“Malawi must stimulate the creation of growth, markets, jobs and incomes for all its citizens. To this end, the Government are working with the Malawian Government to improve the business environment and the diversification and development of its export marke,” said Duddridge.
He said London “strongly support” President Mutharika’s reform agenda.
President Mutharika said he has set up strict measures to restore discipline in financial management and win back the donors trust.
He highlighted that his Government managed to come up with a cabinet size of only 20 Ministers, reducing of fleet of Ministerial vehicles, embarked on a wide range of public sector more efficient and effective and introduction of radical reforms aimed at correcting all the ills that were there in the past that led to loopholes in the system, which were exploited by those involved in the cashgate scandal.
Mutharika added: “We have since sealed all the loopholes in the system and no further siphoning of public resources is taking place, and will never happen again. We are also pursuing all the suspects involved in the looting of the public funds and are all being brought before courts and so far, Government has won all the cases.”
President Mutharika said the wide range of public sector reform is aimed at making the public sector more efficient and effective and to make the country’s fate into our own hands by opening up Malawi for business.
He also assured the UK legislatures that there are a lot of benefits in investing in Malawi, which included governments commitment to ensuring business friendly economic environment, Political stability – no history of civil war -and provision of necessary security for investment, life and property.
The UK Minister of Africa closed his remarks by stating that the relationship between the two countries is a partnership, not a one way relationship; that Malawi is vibrant country, a peaceful democracy and staunchly independent democracy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :