BLANTRYE--Malawi’s President Joyce Banda returned home Tuesday after a two-week visit to the U.S. with a confession that the Malawi-Tanzania dispute over Lake Malawi was becoming dangerous and put the lives of Malawian fishermen at risk.
Speaking to journalists at the State House in Lilongwe, Pres Banda said she was saddened to learn that Tanzania has incorporated the lake into their revised map.
“I thought the issue was under control but it is serious now, our fishermen are being abused and harassed. We have been informed by Tanzania that our boats should stop sailing on the lake otherwise they will blaze them up,” said Banda.
She however said Malawi government has already protested and written both Tanzania and the UN, apart from pursuing other channels to resolve the issue.
Malawi will be sending a delegation to Tanzania for further discussions, Banda added.
On her big entourage to the US at a time her government is calling for austerity, Banda said she took them chiefly to attend other meetings that took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on her behalf.
“There were a series of meeting,” she said. “How could avail myself to all the meetings there?”
Her response drew applause from ruling People’s Party (PP) followers.
She said her government was ready to sell of the presidential jet and the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) was handling the issue.
“Cabinet approved and the jet will be disposed off,” she said.
Banda also said she’d trimmed her motorcade but people just don’t notice it.
There are always other vehicles of cabinet minister and dignitaries who join her motorcade whenever she is on the move, she said.
The president said she had a series of engagement with global leaders during which commitments and agreements were reached for support to her vision of poverty eradication through economic growth and wealth creation.
Among other undertakings in the US, the president signed a Memorandum of Understanding with US former president Bill Clinton for cooperation between the Clinton Global Initiative and the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty Reduction
She said 75 percent investors are interested in hydro energy and mining, oil and gas, adding that these investors are expected to visit Malawi in the next two months.
Banda also said she’d signed an agreement with two US=based biotech firms TNI Biotech, Inc. and GB Oncology & Imaging Group LLC (GBOIG) to open an outpatient clinic at Queens Elizabeth Central Hospital for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.
During the same trip the president received awards for being the Africa’s Most Influential Female Leader of the Year and Leadership in women empowerment.
From the US, president Banda went to South Africa for a two-day 6th African Investment Conference where she said she was committed to putting Malawi among top 100 countries that are good for doing business.
She asserted that it is her wish to see Malawi economy get on track again by promoting prudent fiscal management claiming that the slashing down of the salaries both of president and vice president by 30 percent is one of such measures. She however said she couldn’t force cabinet ministers to do the same.
She also concurred with a report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) which says the number of people in need of food humanitarian aid between October 2012 and March 2013 has jumped from 1.6 million to 1.76 million.
“I feel like there are over 2 million people who need humanitarian assistance. I have already [advises] the vice president to meet with World Food Program officials to chart the way forward,” Banda said.
© The Maravi Post 2012. Reproduction without acknowledgement prohibited.