BLANTYRE--Malawi and Nigeria are set to sign two treaties as Pres Goodluck Jonathan starts a two-day official visit to Malawi Monday, a senior minister has told The Maravi Post.
"Malawi and Nigeria will sign two treaties tomorrow (Monday)," said Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Nganda Chiume in an interview Sunday. "These are treaties on trade and the economy and exchange of human resources."
Chiume said there are about 10 treaties Malawi and Nigeria are set to sign by the end of the year "but the two are ready for signing now while experts are still fine-tuning the rest".
The coming of Jonathan follows a number of high-profile visits since Pres Joyce Banda assumed power following the sudden death of Pres Bingu wa Mutharika in April this year. Chiume, himself a senior cabinet minister in the Mutharika administration, said Malawi was quickly becoming a pariah state in the wake of deteriorating human rights and economic situation in the twilight of the Mutharika regime.
"President Banda has to be commended for restoring confidence in Malawi," he said. "Within a short time we have restored relations with our developing partners while we have also normalised relations with sister nations."
Most Western donor nations deserted Malawi in the wake of the deteriorating political and economic situation under Mutharika, who died aged 78, culminating in the unprecedented July 20, 2011, anti-government demonstrations during which police gunned down 20 unarmed protestors and injured many more. Donors, notably bi-lateral ones like Great Britain, Germany, Norway and the US and multi-lateral agencies like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) - either cut off or reduced development aid to Malawi.
Under Mutharika, Malawi also had frosty relations with neighbours like Zambia, whose new leader Michael Sata was arrested and declared persona non grata in Malawi for unexplained reasons in 2007 when he was an opposition leader. Malawi also had a tiff with Mozambique that was annoyed when Lilongwe decided to by-pass Maputo for Mutharika's pet project, the Shire-Zambezi Waterway meant to create an inland port on the border.
But immediately she took over power Pres Banda embarked on a diplomatic charm offensive to Western capitals as well as neighbouring countries. Since then two British senior ministers - Andrew Mitchell, the International Development minister, and the Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as former British premier Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela's partner, Graça Machel, have paid official visits to Malawi.
Both Pres Armando Emílio Guebuza of Mozambique and his Zambian counterpart Sata also donated items at Mutharika's state funeral.
"We have to hail President Banda for making Malawi attractive again," said Chiume, the Foreign Affairs minister.
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction without acknowledgment prohibited.