It is a great honour for me to take up my posting to the Republic of Malawi. Having served here previously, it was my wish to return to further experience your beautiful country and welcoming people, well named as the Warm Heart of Africa. The country has a special place in my heart and indeed in the affections of many people in the United Kingdom.
Our two countries have a deep and broad relationship. A central element is our shared objective to see Malawi lift itself out of poverty, to grow and develop. I have been struck by the great passion amongst the British public to support Malawi’s people to lead healthier, more educated and prosperous lives. Numerous schools, charities and organisations are working with their Malawi counterparts, developing mutual respect and understanding, with all sides benefitting enormously. This symbolizes the strong people-to-people links that bind us together: tens of thousands of Malawians live, work and study in the UK; more British tourists than from any other country visit Malawi; academic, school and sporting links are broad and thriving.
The British Government too has long worked in partnership with Malawi, particularly in pursuit of shared development goals. Our development assistance programme is broad and significant: helping to reduce the number of women who die too young, while increasing the ability of all Malawians to get medical help and medicines; helping Malawi youth to get the education they deserve; supporting access to clean water and sanitation; supporting farmers to grow food and get their produce to market; assisting Malawi’s state institutions and civil society to strengthen democracy and the application of the rule of law.
But there is more to our relationship. Our defence engagement is historic and strong, including UK training and infrastructure support that builds on the professionalism of the Malawi Army’s international peacekeeping work. We work together on regional and international political and conflict issues, including common global challenges such as climate change. We have a mutual interest in expanding UK-Malawi trade and investment beyond the current £60m in bilateral trade and significant UK investment that exists here in key sectors of the economy.
Your Excellency, you were able to participate in the celebrations of Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Development Secretary and Minister for Africa each made visits to Malawi in May and July respectively this year. These visits underlined our support for a revived UK-Malawi partnership following a difficult period in our diplomatic relations and a damaging downturn in Malawi’s governance. But even during those challenging times, my colleagues worked hard to encourage Malawi back to a more appropriate path of economic policy and democratic governance. The UK was the first donor to respond to your new Government’s positive efforts to address economic and democratic issues, quickly bringing forward £33 million in assistance to health, education and agriculture, which has since been followed up with further support of £25 million for health and food security.
My presence here represents the re-establishment of a full bilateral relationship, and in my short time here I have been welcomed with great enthusiasm as a symbol of Britain’s return. But the UK never abandoned Malawi, and we have every intention of developing the relationship further.
Your Excellency, I will champion Malawi in the UK and internationally. To do so, I need your Government’s help to demonstrate to all that our renewed confidence in Malawi is well founded; and that there is sustained political will to address the issues facing Malawi. We applaud the decisive steps you have taken to date, such as undertaking a difficult but necessary devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha and the repeal of laws that restricted democracy and accountability. We welcome too your commitment to continue on the path towards further stabilization of the economy and food security, to create the conditions for growth, to strengthen the rule of law and democratic practice and to tackle corruption and unnecessary government expenditure. By delivering such an approach, Malawi will go from strength to strength, gaining furtherinternational plaudits and support. I am confident that the more dynamic your Government is in addressing the issues facing Malawi and its people, the more the international community will rally to Malawi’s cause.
I look forward to a new era in our relations and will work hard to bring extra value to our partnership as we go forward together. I humbly request that you allow me to work with you, your Government and the people of Malawi towards a better future of benefit to both our countries.
|PICTURES (BELOW) COURTESY OF THE BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION|