|President Joyce Banda|
The new President of Malawi, Mrs Joyce Banda has wasted no time in throwing away the trappings of presidential excess by promising to sell the $13 million presidential jet and fleet of Mercedes. Britain should continue to re-engage with Malawi and re-appoint a High Commissioner in Lilongwe after the former President Muthraika expelled Fergus Cochrane-Dyet in April 2011, resulting in the suspension of most British aid. The news of £30 million of new British aid and support for stabilising the economy is to be welcomed.
|Every day life for Malawians is very hard|
Over the past two years, Malawi has spiralled into an economic mess with worse and worse presidential excesses as the people suffered. Maize prices shot up by 60% at the end of 2011. Anti-gay laws made the country a pariah in the West after two people were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for being gay. Only after an international outcry did President Mutharika issue a pardon and release the men. President Banda announced on 22nd May that such laws would be repealed. The recent devaluation of the kwatcha whilst pushing up prices has resulted in a wave of international relief funding being released that will medium term begin to alleviate the chronic shortage of donor funds that account for 40% of the country's income. It is vital that such donor support is given to the country to soften the impact of the devaluation to build a viable economy. Just as important is long term investment to take Malawi out of poverty and create jobs and wealth through a stable economy that private business will want to invest in.
President Banda is only the second female head of state in Africa and has got off to a flying start. After police induced riots last summer, resulted in twenty people being shot dead, the President has sacked the police chief responsible. She has appointed a rainbow coalition of Ministers from all parties. However, her enemies in parliament, who attempted an army coup after Mutharika's death, will be watching very closely to try and defeat her and she will need to continue the modernisation programme to win over the people, if she is to stand a chance of election in 2014. She has even had the backbone to try and stop the indicted war criminal President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan accused of genocide, from attending next month's African Union meeting in Malawi.
It is time to re-Joyce and for Britain to back her and Malawi to the hilt. Restore full diplomatic relations now!