Fire the corrupt, US envoy urges

United States Ambassador David Young has asked President Lazarus Chakwera to dismiss public officers implicated in corruption to demonstrate his commitment to fight the vice perpetuating poverty in the country.

He said this on Wednesday evening at his residence in Lilongwe during the commemoration of the first anniversary of the US Government’s Juneteenth National Day attended by senior Malawi Government officials including Cabinet ministers, Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara, Malawi Defence Force Commander General Vincent Nundwe as well as other diplomats and dignitaries.

Tembo (R) and Young propose a toast

Young said while Malawi is making efforts to grow its economy, government should step up efforts to combat corruption.

He said: “Corruption creates a web of relationships that perpetuate poverty and illegality. Battling corruption is a long-term battle, but it must begin today in earnest. The corrupt must be dismissed from positions of power.

“Through the development of a culture of transparency and openness and with a strong dedication to access to information for the public, the rot of corruption will fade.”

The envoy stressed that the fight against corruption is Malawi’s battle and, therefore, should be led by Malawians.

He pledged that the US and other development partners will continue supporting Malawi’s efforts in combatting the vice.

Young joins other voices from the diplomatic community, including the United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU), who have also expressed worry with the levels of corruption in the country.

The EU has previously indicated that its resumption of direct budgetary support is partly dependent on the fight against corruption.

And in his speech during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations held in Lilongwe last week, British High Commissioner David Beer also took advantage of the presence of senior government officials to tackle the issue of corruption.

Britain’s National Crimes Agency (NCA) is currently investigating Malawian-born UK-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar on allegations that he bribed politically-exposed persons in Malawi to gain favours in form of public contracts.

Besides corruption, Young said Malawi’s other big task is to grow the economy through increased investment and private sector engagement.

Speaking during the event, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nancy Tembo said the Chakwera administration is committed to fight against corruption by, among others, ensuring an independent ACB.

She acknowledged that Malawi is going through many challenges, including economic hardships, extreme poverty, diseases and food insecurity, but added that government is aware that countering these challenges requires pragmatic and sustainable policy solutions.

Said Tembo: “The Malawi Government is currently implementing an array of short, medium and long-term programmes. These include the Covid-19 Socio-Economic Recovery Plan, the Social Cash Transfer Programme, the Affordable Inputs Programme and provision of loans to small and medium-scale enterprises through the National Economic Empowerment Fund.”

Juneteenth National Day was set aside to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in the US.


China Says It Has ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Racism Amid Malawi Fallout

The Chinese government is working to prevent continued diplomatic fallout and protect its image in Africa after racist videos of African children made by a Chinese man living in Malawi surfaced this week.

The BBC’s investigative report into the videos found a man named Lu Ke who allegedly filmed African children unknowingly saying offensive things in Mandarin such as “I’m a black monster and I have a low IQ.” The videos were then sold on a Chinese website, according to the BBC.

The news sparked outrage in Malawi, with netizens expressing their fury on Twitter and Foreign Minister Nancy Tembo saying the country felt “disgusted, disrespected and deeply pained.”

After the Chinese Embassy in Malawi was initially criticized for its tepid response to the scandal, dismissing the videos as old news because they were filmed in 2020, they released a new, stronger statement on Thursday.

The embassy said, “The Chinese community in Malawi has voiced their condemnation to racism in strong words,” adding that “the isolated case by a fool individual does not change the whole picture.”

China’s top diplomat in the region, Wu Peng, has also been engaging in damage control. He went to Malawi on Tuesday, where he met government officials, tweeting, “Nice to feel in person the Warm Heart of Africa. Malawi is a beautiful country with lovely people.”

Wu Peng also tweeted, “I just reached an agreement with Malawian FM that both #China&#Malawi have zero tolerance for racism. China has been cracking down on these unlawful acts in the past yrs. We’ll continue to crack down on such racial discrimination videos in the future.”

The day after his visit, Malawi’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs tweeted about a new Chinese scholarship opportunity for Malawians to study in China for a master’s degree, which some skeptics online saw as another way for Beijing to mitigate the fallout from the scandal.

Many Malawians are unconvinced by China’s apologies. The online news publication Malawi 24 reported that a Malawi-based group, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives, has called on the police to trace all Chinese nationals in the country and find out whether they’re there illegally or misrepresenting their reasons for being in the country.

Ralph Mathekga, a South African political analyst, told VOA that China has a history of racism toward Africans, yet governments on the continent were often loath to raise such issues because of Beijing’s economic clout.

“The video is not too surprising. … I think China is never brought to account in human rights and race relations in the country’s relationship with Africa,” he said.

But Cobus van Staden from the South African Institute of International Affairs said the videos could still be damaging.

“These kinds of depictions of Africans have a long, bad historical precedence. … I think it could be harmful for China’s image on the continent,” van Staden told VOA.

In Washington, Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida and one of the most vocal China critics in Congress, tweeted about the BBC documentary, saying it was “disgusting and inhumane” and directly blaming the Communist Party of China.

In recent years, one of Beijing’s key talking points has been racism in the United States. Chinese officials and state media regularly focus on high-profile cases of police killings of African Americans like George Floyd to accuse the U.S. of racism and human rights abuses.