The UK daily newspaper, Times has unfairly criticised President Peter Mutharika and his entourage of ignoring the state of poverty in Malawi by staying in a very expensive hotel while on their recent visit to Scotland – the bill money wasn’t paid by Lilongwe but the host government.
In a story , The Times reported in a ridicule of Malawi impoverishment that Mutharika and his six-strong entourage racked up a five-star hotel bill in Scotland large enough to feed hundreds of Malawi children for a year.
The story has caused angry reaction by both Scottish taxpayers and concerned Malawians. Scottish taxpayers helped pay the costs of Mutharika’s bill in Prestonfield House, Edinburgh, last week.
According to the Times, the cost of just a single suite for one night is up to £450 — more than 30 times the £14 needed to feed a child for a year in Malawi. In contrast, Prestonfield House promises an “opulent individual style that is unrivalled anywhere else in the city”, with “Edinburgh’s most luxurious rooms andsuites”
The Scottish government has been one of the consisted donors to Malawi giving at least £2.7m to Malawi each year as part of its overseas aid budget. Recently they have just announced funding to assist the Malawian College of Medicine make improvements through collaboration with Glasgow University.
The British Conservative Party commenting on the development said “There’s clearly merit in supporting Malawi when it comes to tackling poverty. But quite how putting up a government entourage in one of Scotland’s most expensive hotels achieves that is a mystery. People will wonder about the priorities of this arrangement when such luxury is being footed by the taxpayer.”
The Malawi opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has been quoted expressing concern about the expense while calling for an end to this type of wastefulness.
The Scottish Government defended the expenses saying “It is standard practice for the Scottish government to host a visiting head of state and their presidential party for their official programme ,The official presidential party for this visit totalled six people and was part of a wider UK visit, with some of the costs met by external partners and the UK government.”
.President Mutharika has been on visit to the UK to attend the commonwealth heads of state meetings, of which he extended his tour to Visit Scotland .
On the travel bill and expenses footed by Malawi government, the President has an austerity spirit.