A few days before I went out to Malawi, a leaked dispatch to the Foreign Office written by the British Ambassador to Malawi said that President Mutharika was becoming increasingly intolerant of criticism and more and more dictatorial.
President Mutharika, with no hint of irony and bluntly proving the statement to be rather more fact than opinion, responded by swiftly expelling the Ambassador.
Much talk while I was there was about this and the possible ramifications for British aid/support for projects in Malawi, not to mention the withdrawl of the Malawi Ambassador’s royal wedding invite.
This is the chatter in the towns and probably not of direct concern to the fruit sellers of Zomba at the moment but somewhere further down the waterfall it does and will affect them.
Let me give you an example. Since 2001, UNICEF (funded by the International community including UK) has been providing mosquito nets to the poorest communities of sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi, 2 million nets were distributed in 2005 alone. The aim being to meet the Abuja Target – to provide mosquito nets to 60% of the population deemed at risk of Malaria.
A paediatric surgeon I met in Blantyre told me that this project has made a massive difference to the rates of childhood malaria they see at the hospital. And on a continent where Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds projects like this, and UK funding for projects like this, need to be protected from the politicking and posturing that may be going on above.