LILONGWE—The African Union plans to meet in July here to elect its next chairman but the idea of Malawi hosting the Heads of State summit doesn't sit well with Vice President Joyce Banda.
Speaking on Wednesday in Lilongwe after her People’s Party handed over keys to the house built for an old lady in the central region district of Mchinji, the vice president said Malawi simply can’t afford to host such an expensive event because of the country’s current economic crisis.
Banda urged Pres Bingu wa Mutharika to convince the organisation to move the event somewhere else.
"We have so many pressing issues that need our attention,” said Banda. There’s six months before the meeting. AU can find another country to host the summit. I humbly ask my President to consider this.”
The vice president, who was expelled from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) apparently for not endorsing its succession plans which sidelined her, said life for the great majority of Malawians was a constant battle for survival.
Prices of basic needs kept going up while people’s wages remained stagnant; health facilities in the country were ill-equipped, a situation that affected delivery of care to patients, Banda said.
The grassroots campaigner said if Peoples Party were to form the next government, it would work tirelessly to improve people's lives.
Reacting to Banda’s concerns about Malawi hosting the AU summit, government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati said the country could handle it.
She said there were benefits to hosting such events. Visitors coming to the country would bring the much needed foreign exchange and Malawi would promote its tourism.
"Many people including donors attend such summits,” said Kaliati. “We’ve immediate business for our hotels and other traders.”
Malawi has severe fuel shortages because the country doesn't have enough dollars to import the product. The country’s main foreign exchange earner tobacco failed to do well at the market and donors, who used to provide up to 40 percent of Malawi’s development budget, either reduced or cut off aid over concerns that the government was mismanaging the economy and curtailing rights.
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment