US urges Malawi to make ‘rapid improvements’ to access aid

The United States says Malawi need to make “rapid improvement” to concerns of governance, human rights and economic policy through concrete, positive actions  if the country is to access a $350m aid package which was “put on hold.”

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government agency that assists developing countries, has been reviewing its partnership with Malawi since its put the money on hold in July.

Nyasa Times monitored the US Ambassador to Malawi, Jeanine Jackson, speaking on Capital FM Straight Talk programme on Tuesday.

She said MCC will soon make a decision on whether to release or terminate assistance, but urged Malawi government to address concerns and get back on tract with the MCC Compact.

Ambassador Jackson on Straight Talk: Get MCC Compact on track. Photo: Brian Banda/Facebook

On hold

Ambassador Jackson clarified that the aid which was meant to be spent on developing Malawi’s power sector, was not suspended.

“The term suspended is actually stronger than the actual situation,” said the diplomat. “The MCC (aid to Malawi) is on operational hold.”

She said the US government “regularly” engage with the government of Malawi “particularly with the issue of MCC” and its requirement – good governance.

“The Malawi government definitely listens to our advice, it’s difficult to say whether they are taking our advice specifically because I am sure they are getting other advices as well,” she said.

MCC watching

The US envoy said her government has been following with keen interest the dialogue between the civil society leaders and the government. They are also monitoring the Inquiry into the July 20 nationwide demonstrations which claimed at least 19 lives when police battled street protesters in three Malawian cities.

“We would like to see the Government communicate well with the people,” she pointed out.

“IMF technical assistant team is extremely important to MCC team,” Ambassador Jackson added.

She said the core of an MCC partnership is “about governance, respect of human rights and economic policy.”

Said Jackson: “MCC is watching. They are watching just about everything going on in Malawi.”

Despite saying there is no “checklist”, the US envoy said: “MCC has a set of what they call indicators that are in three categories; ruling justly, investing in people and economic policy. And the government of Malawi knows about the indicators very well.”

She said: “Unfortunately the situation with Malawi is rapid improvements need to be made because MCC is going to make a decision in a relatively near future on whether that compact actually can go forward.”

The US envoy stressed that America government “do not want to see Malawi suffer.”

No interference

The ambassador said while the United States government expect a commitment of governance from Malawi government, they do not interfere with the country’s affairs.

“We support principals and I don’t think anyone can accuse US Government of interfering,” she said.

The MCC is designed to reward developing countries that protect human rights and practice rule of law.

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