Governance and Human Rights Expert Undule Mwakasungula and socio-political activist Joshua Chisa Mbele have backed external trips President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has undertaken since he assumed power, stressing that presidential trips are very necessary as they bring potential benefits and unlock doors for the prosperity for the country.
Some quarters of the society, particularly the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have been accusing President Chakwera of draining forex reserves through his international trips.
But Mwakasungula argued that presidential trips outside the country help to deepen Malawi’s relations with other countries.
“This First Saudi-Africa Summit and the 5th Africa-Arab Summit will be a platform where Malawi could showcase its potential as an investment destination. It presents an opportunity just as UNGA to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), which could lead to infrastructure development, technology transfer, and job creation. The engagement with wealthy nations like Saudi Arabia could also unlock financial support and investments in key sectors of Malawi’s economy,” said Mwakasungula in an interview on Wednesday.
He added that Malawi’s participation in the AFREXIMBANK Intra-African Trade Summit will allow the country to negotiate and secure trade deals that could increase exports, particularly in agriculture, which is a mainstay of the Malawian economy, further stating that enhanced trade opportunities could as well lead to a diversified market for Malawian products and services, which is crucial for economic stability and growth.
“We cannot deny that engagements with Middle Eastern countries that have made significant strides in health and education could lead to collaborative projects and knowledge exchange. Malawi could benefit from expertise in these areas, which are vital for the well-being and development of our country and any nation. The summit will also be a space for strengthening cultural and diplomatic relations that could have long-term benefits, including support in international forums and bodies. These relationships are important for cultural exchange, tourism development, and educational opportunities for Malawians through benefiting from scholarships and training programs,” he said.
The Malawi’s renowned and revered governance and human rights fighter observed that Saudi Arabia’s expertise in energy could be a notable boon for Malawi, which faces energy challenges. Discussions around energy cooperation could lead to investments in power generation and mining, with Saudi Arabia interested in mineral exploration and development.
He said since the Middle East is also known for its humanitarian initiatives, Malawi, which often faces natural disasters like floods and drought, could secure commitments for humanitarian aid that could help in disaster management and mitigation efforts.
“It is important to appreciate that such high-level Presidential trips are critical for a country like Malawi. They are not mere formalities but are strategic engagements that could have tangible outcomes for the nation’s economy, infrastructure, and the general well-being of citizens. And it is imperative that these opportunities are maximized to ensure that the collaborations and agreements entered into translate into real benefits for Malawians,” said Mwakasungula.
On the other hand, Chisa Mbele faulted those accusing Chakwera of ‘travelling a lot’, stating that the engagements the President has held, so far, have brought many benefits to the country.
“These engagements are strategic and important if we can position and sell our areas of much-needed direct foreign trade and investments. Collaboration is what we are looking for,” he wrote on his Facebook page.