By Watipaso Mzungu
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has raised suspicion on the secret visit by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday this week.
Blair sneaked into Malawi for a scheduled private meeting with President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera at the Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.
Officials at the State House had initially the local media that Chakwera was not aware of the Blair’s visit although he [Chakwera] would hold a discussion with him at Kamuzu Palace.
But CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa, who addressed journalists in Lilongwe this afternoon, suspected that, in the absence of prior announcements of Blair’s visits, Malawians could easily conclude that the Tonse Alliance administration intends to hire the former British premier as Chief Advisor to Chakwera, a move, which was heavily criticized and protested against by Malawians citizens, describing it as neo-colonization.
Namiwa further doubted if the discussion between Chakwera and Blair were not in the best interest of Malawian citizens.
“We are challenging President Chakwera to come out in the open and tell Malawians the reasons why we need Tony Blair in Malawi as an advisor, when the voters gave him all the trust and power to govern for the next five years. We believe that Blair had ulterior motives when he visited the country,” he said.
Namiwa wondered why Malawi would opt to give Blair an advisory role when he has a bad record in Rwanda where he is a voluntary advisor to Paul Kagame.
Apparently, there are massive reports of human rights violations in Rwanda, bordering on excessive use of force by the law enforcement agencies; unlawful and arbitrary detentions; internet restrictions by the State; lack of freedom of expression; human rights activists and opposition political party leaders being silenced through arbitrary arrests and imprisonment based on trumped-up charges, among others.
“As they say, show me your friends and I will tell you who you are, the friendship that exists between Kagame and Blair is a cause for worry for us to see our leader joining the league. CDEDI does not think that the former British PM has anything to offer to Malawi. On the other hand, CDEDI believes that Blair’s closeness to the Republic of Rwanda, whose human rights record is not anywhere near a model, could offer anything positive to the Republic of Malawi in as far as tenets of good and genuine democracy are concerned,” he narrated.
“It is also important to point out that Blair was around during the Dr. Joyce Banda regime but there is literally nothing that Malawians benefited, hence CDEDI’s caution to President Chakwera to tread carefully, since the SADC, the African region, and indeed the world, are watching! If truth be told, Malawi has the finest brains that are capable of turning around our fortunes without necessarily looking up to self-appointed good Samaritans, whose interests and motives are not clear,” Namiwa stressed.
In his reaction, State House Acting Presidential Secretary Anthony Kasunda said it is sad that “once again CDEDI is making wild allegations that have no basis in fact and are far removed from reality”.
Kasunda said Chakwera was informed of Blair’s private visit to Malawi and the wider region.
“As such, in keeping with established international protocols, the President invited Mr. Blair to pay him a brief courtesy call, his schedule permitting, to allow the two to get personally acquainted for the first time,” he said.