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Diaspora Corner: Malawians in USA Meet Vice-President Salous Chilima


Chilima Outlines Malawi Government Reforms to Malawians in Washington D.C.

Silver Spring, November 20th, 2015

The Vice President of Malawi, Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima and Madam Mary Chilima met members of the Malawi Washington Association (MWA) and Malawian community in DC on Tuesday November 17th, 2015. The event took place at the Embassy of the Republic of Malawi in Washington D.C. where the Chilima outlined the government’s agenda in Malawi to Malawians.

Chilima was in the country to attend meetings for Compact2025, a partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute to mobilize the world community to end hunger and undernutrition by 2025. He took the advantage of this visit by also taking the time to engage with the Malawian Diaspora.

The President was accompanied by the Second Lady, Madam Chilima and Malawi’s minister of Agriculture, Hon. Allan Chiyembekeza M.P. who also met with the community. They were hosted by Malawi’s official representatives who are under the leadership of Ambassador Necton Mhura, the Malawi Ambassador to the U.S.

Hon. Chiyembekeza spoke first and delineated the work he has been doing in his ministry. In his speech to the audience, Vice-President Chilima outlined the reforms he is leading in the country and the challenges he faces in being an agent of change.  He noted that many of his critics are quick to politicize any critical changes without providing alternatives which is an obstacle to implementing change.

He noted that they aimed to create a budget for Malawi that was resource based not aid based as is the current case. Essentially, this means that they will budget based on what Malawi has rather than what Malawi will potentially receive from donors.  

Escom will be unbundled so that it is no longer a monopoly, and this will to allow other investors provide meaningful competition. These changes affecting Malawi’s electricity provider are scheduled take place within next eighteen months should result in a visible improvement in efficiency in providing electricity in the country.

He highlighted that they are working to make improvements in the provision of water because the system that was built in the colonial era needs to be changed because it leaks water due to its old age. He noted that already, changes implemented in water services has tremendously improved in major cities and towns that were struggling barely a year ago. He noted though that nobody is talking about it because, “it is working”.

Civil service is being restructured to have true and meaningful accountability. People will be rewarded for efficiency and for balancing the budget of departments they lead. Many positions will be allowed to be phased out upon retirement to avoid the expense of a large overhaul of positions. They also will make sure voids are not left out as experienced staff retires. If need be, they may bring back people with vast experience from retirement on an as needed basis.

In order to improve security, police are being recruited to increase the force and to ensure that the police force in each area remains proportional to the size of each community that needs to be served. 

Vice-President Chilima is also charged with Disaster Management in Malawi and spoke about the flooding that devastated the country earlier this year.  He noted that they were trying to make improvements in this area and that a report was provided. A review of the impact of flood aftermath shows about 3 million people will need food assistance because of the flood induced famine. Malawi has asked for $146M but has only received $41M in pledges which is well short of what’s needed to prevent a famine Government is working on making sure there is enough emergency help for these people. He acknowledged the role the Diaspora has played in sending money to Malawi as well as the difficulty they faced in finding legitimate programs to donate funds to in Malawi. He assured the audience that they were trying to address these concerns.

Lastly, he assured Malawians that the issue Dual Citizenship is still on the table and that Ambassador Mhura has been involved in this process. He encouraged the Diaspora to continue to participate in developing the country. He advised us that the Embassy was there to help with red tape in trying to investing back home noting that the business registration time period has already improved to facilitate investments. 

In the interest of time, Vice-President Chilima and Hon. Chiyembekeza both shortened their speeches to accommodate questions and to mingle and take photos with the attendees. Many also took the opportunity to chat with the second-lady and the ambassador who made themselves available to guests as well.

The event took place in an intimate setting which allowed for open conversation between Malawi’s official representatives and the community. MWA was represented by Vice -President Patricia Msaka-Kankondo and former President and Board Member Eddie Namin’gona. Naming’ona also served as the Master of Ceremony for the evening event. Also in attendance were representatives from the Malawi Washington Foundation, a Malawian girls’ education program based in D.C. and Malawians in Texas Organization, a Malawi association based in Texas.

Msaka-Kankondo’s remarks to the Vice-President for this occasion on behalf of MWA will be delivered to the Vice-President through the embassy of Malawi. Its contents include information regarding the work that MWA and the rest of the Diaspora has been doing both in the US and in Malawi. This includes specific information about the efforts made to provide relief for floods. It also renews the call for Dual Citizenship which is needed to facilitate the Diaspora projects in Malawi. MWA is a registered non-partisan non-profit organization in Washington DC whose mission is to unite Malawians in the U.S. and look after the welfare of Malawians both in the U.S. and in Malawi. 

Maravi Post Reporter
Maravi Post Reporter
Op-Ed Columnists, Opinion contributors and one submissions are posted under this Author. In our By-lines we still give Credit to the right Author. However we stand by all reports posted by Maravi Post Reporter.
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