"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Monday, November 07, 2005

"The origin of corruption in Malawi is the system of 'laissez-faire' that allowed powerful and corrupt political leaders to amass huge wealth and fortunes at the expense of the poor masses" - President Bingu Wa Mutharika

State President Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika has blamed leaders of the past for their 'laissez-faire' attitude in governance that allowed rampant corruption to exist in Malawi. Mutharika was addressing the Scottish Parliament Thursday as part of his four-day state visit to Scotland under the Scotland Malawi Partnership.

"The origin of corruption in Malawi is the system of 'laissez-faire' that allowed powerful and corrupt political leaders to amass huge wealth and fortunes at the expense of the poor masses," Mutharika said, adding that no one could dare challenge the leaders resulting in the entrenchment and acceptance of corruption as normal. He stated that the corruption even influenced all three arms of government.

The Malawi president set out to explain why his 'zero tolerance on corruption' agenda seemed only to target those who had been in leadership positions before. "This august house might be interested to know that my government spares no one. This is why some members of the opposition have turned against me. Their plan is to discredit me and remove me from office so that they should not be brought to book.

Mutharika went on to explain: "The abortive attempts to impeach me are part of their drive towards their self preservation. In other words," he said, "I am paying for trying to clean up corruption in my country." This speech in the Scottish Parliament went some way at addressing the negative perceptions that people in Scotland have had from their media about recent political developments in Malawi. There will be three days of hectic activity and lobbying for desperate support to Malawi from Scotland by the Scotland Malawi Partnership whose convener is former High Commissioner to Malawi George Finlayson.

The Scotland Malawi Partnership has brought leading political players, church leaders and civil society advocates from Malawi to interact with their counterparts, and with parliament to set out an agenda for ongoing support from Scotland. This support is expected to focus in the areas of Health, Education and training, Agriculture, Growth and Poverty reduction, Aid, Debt and Investment as well as in Governance.

The visit to Scotland of the imminent persons from Malawi and the attempt at lobbying their Scottish counterparts faces difficult hurdles following negative perceptions carried in the press about Malawi being in a shambles so far as the political landscape as well as the economy and social structures. The attempt to impeach the president has also had a far-reaching adverse effect on Malawi's ability to garner support from its 150 year-old historic partner.

An article that appeared in the local media prior to the parliamentary address by President Mutharika suggests that the First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell was wining and dining the Malawi president while there was evidence that it is estimated that 5 million people in Malawi will starve to death before year-end.

In response to Mutharika's address, McConnell welcomed the Malawi delegation, recognizing the shared history that the two nations have and promising that the Celtic nation is more than willing to help support Malawi. He indicated that Scotland was aware of the needs of Malawi and will attempt to assist under a principle of sustained solidarity and mutual understanding.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Scottish Executive have earmarked the sum of three million pounds sterling to immediately assist Malawi.

-Story by Rob Jamieson for The Chronicle

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