"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, May 04, 2009

Bingu praised at US summit

President Bingu wa Mutharika continues to receive praise for his policies on agriculture with the latest being recognition from former United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s envoy on HIV/Aids to Africa, Stephen Lewis.

According to Malawian Mpanje Phiri, who attended a conference on reviewing the relationship between food shortage and the HIV/Aids crisis and held in the United States last month, Lewis lauded Mutharika for standing up against pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) against subsidising fertiliser prices.

“I thought I should share the good news about our country’s image abroad since I was the only Malawian invited to the conference held in Kansas, Missouri,” said Phiri, a programme coordinator for a local relief NGO.

“Lewis singled out Malawi for achieving food security. He said Malawi has a president with rare skills and who successfully stood up to pressure from the World Bank and IMF against subsidising fertiliser prices.”

Asked if he broke the news to drum up support for Mutharika ahead of the May 19 polls, Phiri said he was not a politician and that if he were one, he should have gone on a political podium to announce the news.

In his speech, which Phiri showed to The Daily Times, Lewis said Mutharika made Malawi the only country to transform from a hungry nation to a food donor in the developing world because of his determination which also saw him stand pressure from some European countries and the US.

“Mutharika told these nations that if they were able to subsidise farm inputs for their farmers, there was nothing wrong with Malawi doing it for its farmers,” he said.

Phiri said other delegates, drawn from across the world, mobbed him during tea break to find out how Malawi achieved the feat and to congratulate him.

He added: “I felt very proud to be associated with such success. The moment he mentioned Malawi, I raised my hand to show that I was from the country.”

Canadian Lewis, now Coordinator of the Aids-Free World – an advocacy organisation promoting urgent and effective response to HIV issues, served as UN Secretary General Special Envoy on HIV/Aids to Africa between 2001 and 2006.

Lewis is the author of one of the bestselling books Race Against Time. He also served as United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Deputy Executive Director from 1995 to 1999, and has been awarded up to 28 honorary degrees by Canadian universities.

Africa would not only remember Lewis for his role in fighting HIV in the continent but also as a member of an International Panel of Eminent Personalities to investigate the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and its surrounding events to which he was appointed in 1998 by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

He also served as Canadian ambassador to the UN from 1984 to 1988.


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