· YOUR EXCELLENCY MRS. JOYCE BANDA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI;
· YOUR EXCELLENCY THE CHIEF JUSTICE RICHARD BANDA, SC (RETIRED)
· RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY CHIMUNTHU BANDA, M.P., SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY;
· YOUR LORDSHIP LOVEMORE MUNLO, SC, THE CHIEF JUSTICE;
· CABINET MINISTERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS;
· MR BRIGHT MSAKA, SC, CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT;
· HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT;
· YOUR EXCELLENCIES MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS;
· MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY;
· COMMANDER OF THE MALAWI DEFENCE FORCES, GENERAL HENRY ODILLO;
· INSPECTOR GENERAL OF MALAWI POLICE SERVICES, MR. LOT DZONZI;
· TRADITIONAL LEADERS;
· RELIGIOUS LEADERS;
· MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA;
· LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda, President of the Republic of Malawi paid a visit to the United Kingdom from 4th to 8th June, 2012, where she went to attend Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II assumed the throne in 1952. Many world leaders from the Commonwealth and other countries attended the celebrations. While in the United Kingdom, Her Excellency the President also had a number of official Engagements.
2.0 THE DIAMOND JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS
As part of the festivities to mark the Diamond Jubilee, Their Excellencies and other invited guests attended a Diamond Jubilee Reception and a BBC concert at the Buckingham Palace on 4th June, 2012. Their Excellencies also attended a Thanksgiving Service of Worship in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul’s Cathedral and a Diamond Jubilee Luncheon hosted by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt. Honourable William Hague, MP, at Lancaster House on 5th June, 2012.
Finally Their Excellences and other leaders were treated to a luncheon which was hosted by the Commonwealth Secretary General, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma in honour of the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth at Malborough House on 6th June, 2012.
Their Excellencies attendance of the celebrations marking the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has greatly enhanced the image of Malawi in the United Kingdom and will go a long way in consolidating the excellent and historic ties between Malawi and the United Kingdom.
3.0 OTHER SIDE EVENTS
While in the United Kingdom, Her Excellency, the President carried out a number of official engagements as follows:
(a) Meeting with Dr. Ann Gloag of the Gloag Foundation
On 5th June, 2012, Her Excellency the President met with Dr. Ann Gloag of the Gloag Foundation. During the meeting, the President discussed maternal health matters particularly the problem of fistula. The Gloag Foundation has been working in Malawi in the treatment of women with fistula problems. She indicated that her organization will soon establish a big fistula clinic at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe.
(b) Meeting with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma
Her Excellency, the President met with the Commonwealth Secretary General, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma at Claridges Hotel on 5th June, 2012. During the meeting, Her Excellency the President briefed Mr. Sharma of the policy direction that her government has taken in order to improve the lives of Malawians. In this regard, Her Excellency the President informed the Commonwealth Secretary General that her vision for Malawi is poverty eradication through growing the economy, creation of jobs and generation of wealth. The President invited the Commonwealth to assist her government in this noble endeavour.
Mr. Sharma congratulated Her Excellency the President on her ascension to the presidency and commended her and the people of Malawi for the smooth transition. He indicated that the Commonwealth was ready to work with the government of Malawi in areas of governance, education, health and conservation of natural resources. He singled out the Electoral Commission as a special area of focus and pledged assistance in building its capacity. The Commonwealth Secretary General also expressed willingness to assist Malawi in negotiating contractual agreements as it develops further its mining industry.
(c) Meeting with Mr. Michael Osigwe, Malawi’s Honorary Consul Designate to Nigeria
The President met with Mr. Michael Osigwe, Malawi’s Honorary Consul-Designate in Nigeria on 5th June, 2012. Her Excellency the President emphasized that Nigeria is an important player in African politics and economic development hence the need for Malawi to be represented in that country and called on Mr. Osigwe to represent Malawi to the best of his capability. Mr. Osigwe assured Her Excellency the President that he will actively and vigorously serve the interests of Malawi in Nigeria.
(d) Meeting with Messrs. Alex Lemon and William Dawes of Mkango Resources Limited
Her Excellency also met with Messrs Alex Lemon and William Dawes of Mkango Resources Limited, a Canadian mining company on 5th June, 2012. The two came to congratulate Her Excellency the President and to assure her of their company’s support to the government in her efforts to create employment and reduce poverty in the country.
(e) Meeting with Baroness Lynda Chalker of Africa Matters Limited at the Royal Overseas League House.
On 6th June, 2012, Her Excellency the President met with Baroness Lynda Chalker, Chairperson of Africa Matters Limited, an organization she established to promote investment in Africa. She outlined government policies to make Malawi an investment friendly nation. She outlined the investment opportunities that are available in Malawi in sectors such as agriculture, mining, energy, tourism and infrastructure development. Six investors, who attended the meeting, representing energy, mining, agriculture, finance, business and ICT sectors, assured Her Excellency of their willingness to invest in Malawi and will arrange to visit the country.
(f) Meeting with Right Honourable Jack McConnell
Her Excellency the President also held discussions with Right Honourable Jack McConnell, former First Minister of Scotland on 6th June, 2012. The former First Minister expressed his condolences following the death of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika and congratulated Her Excellency the President upon her ascension to the Presidency and expressed the hope of continued cordial relations with Scotland. Her Excellency the President took the opportunity to apprise him of the political and economic developments taking place in Malawi.
(g) Meeting with the Royal African Society
On 7th June, 2012, Her Excellency the President held a meeting with members of the Royal African Society, an eminent organization which fosters a better understanding of Africa in the United Kingdom and throughout the world. It promotes trade and investment and also disseminates knowledge and insights which immensely contribute to Africa’s socio-economic development.
During the meeting, the President stated her vision for Malawi which is to eradicate poverty through economic growth and wealth creation which will be achieved through the implementation of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II). Her Excellency the President showcased investment opportunities in Malawi which include agriculture, mining, tourism, energy and infrastructure development. She called upon then Royal African Society to drum up support for Malawi in the United Kingdom and to identify and encourage potential investors to come to Malawi.
(h) Meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Malawi and Zambia
Her Excellency the President met with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Malawi and Zambia on 7th June, 2012. This is a group of Parliamentarians drawn from both the House of Lords and Commons that works to promote the interests of Malawi and Zambia in both Houses of the UK Parliament. Her Excellency the President commended the group for its laudable work in promoting interests of Malawi in the UK Parliament. The President invited the group to continue helping the country in promoting the good image of Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa. She expressed her readiness to meet members of the group to discuss any matter of mutual interest. The group congratulated Her Excellency the President upon her ascension to the presidency and pledged to continue supporting her government in its noble endeavour to eradicate poverty and entrench good governance and rule of law.
(i) Presentation at Chatham House
Her Excellency the President presented a statement at Chatham House on Malawi’s Policy and Priorities for a Globalised World on 7th June, 2012. Chatham House is one of the world’s most leading and reputable think tanks on international affairs. In her presentation, Her Excellency spelt out the policy direction that her government has taken in order to position Malawi to benefit from globalization. Key policy issues included regional integration, the Doha round of talks; access to universal health care; the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; peace and security; and reform of the United Nations. The President also outlined her policy for women and the youth in the form of the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty. Under this initiative, Her Excellency the President will develop cooperatives across the country that will grow cash crops thereby creating jobs and wealth for women and the youth.
The presentation was well received by a diverse audience of academicians, researchers and investors.
(j) Meeting with Malawians Living in the United Kingdom
While in the United Kingdom, Her Excellency the President had the opportunity to meet with Malawians living in the UK on 7th June, 2012. The President called on them to live in harmony. She also asked them to promote the good image of the mother country, Malawi, in the UK. She asked them to play a role in promoting investment in Malawi. She also called on them to open foreign denominated accounts at home to help in shoring up foreign exchange levels in the country. The President further assured the Diaspora that her government will continue consulting them on issues of their concern and those on national interest.
The Group of Malawians congratulated Her Excellency the President upon her ascension to the presidency and pledged to work with her Excellency’s government. They also took the opportunity to condole Her Excellency upon the death of the late President Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika. They requested Her Excellency the President to consider issues of dual citizenship and review of MRA duty on vehicles they send to Malawi.
4.0. OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Their Excellencies departed London for Washington, DC on 8th June, 2012. While in Washington, Her Excellency had the following engagements:
4.1 Meeting with Malawians in the United States of America
On 9th June, 2012, Her Excellency the President met with Malawians living in the United States of America. The President urged the Malawians to play a critical role in the fulfillment of Her Government’s vision of poverty eradication. She encouraged them to open up foreign currency denominated accounts in the country to help boosting the foreign exchange reserves.
4.2 Meeting with the IMF Managing Director
Her Excellency the President had a meeting the with Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Mrs. Christine Lagarde on 11th June, 2012. During the meeting, the President outlined the economic challenges that Malawi is facing and the plans that her Government has put in place to bring the economy back on track. She assured the IMF Managing Director that her Government is looking forward to the successful conclusion of discussions on an Extended Credit Facility program with the IMF which will assist in resolving the economic challenges. The IMF Managing Director responded that she was impressed with the actions that Malawi has taken since Her Excellency took over the reins of power. She said that she was confident that the IMF Board will approve the economic program when it meets in July.
4.3 Meeting with the World Bank Managing Director
Her Excellency the President also had a meeting with the Managing Director of the World Bank, Sri Mulyani Indrawati. During the meeting, Her Excellency also outlined the economic challenges that Malawi is going through and called upon the Bank to assist in cushioning the adverse impact of the economic measures that she had to take. The World Bank Managing Director assured Her Excellency that her institution was putting together a US$150 million package to help cushion the economic shock on the poor. She commended Her Excellency for the sound economic policies that she has put in place which has brought confidence to the international community.
4.4 Meeting with the Millennium Challenge Corporation
Her Excellency the President had a meeting with the Vice President responsible for Operations of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Mr. Patrick Fine. Her Excellency outlined the steps that her Government has taken to resolve the economic and human rights governance issues that had let to the Malawi Compact being put on operational hold. She called on the MCC to reconsider its position the Compact as it will address one of the major bottlenecks affecting the economy, namely energy. In reply Mr. Fine informed Her Excellency that the MCC was impressed with the steps that Her Government has taken to improve economic and political governance in the country. He was confident that when the MCC Board meets later this month, a decision will be taken to resuscitate the Compact.
4.5 Panel Discussion on Frontiers of Development
Her Excellency the President joined other leaders in a Panel Discussion on Frontiers of Development. The other leaders who took part in the panel discussion were President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President Atifete Jahjaga of Kosovo, and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark who is now the UNDP Administrator.
The visit to the United Kingdom by Her Excellency the President to attend the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was an epoch making and resounding success as it portrayed Malawi’s solidarity with the United Kingdom and the rest of the Commonwealth countries. Likewise, the visit to the United States of America was a resounding success because it gave confidence to the international community that Her Excellency’s Government is determined to address the economic challenges facing the country. Through this visit, Her Excellency has managed to get assurances of support from the international community to resolve these challenges for the benefit of the people.