The US Asks Malawi for serious Commitments to Unlock Funds

Malawi needs to reaffirm its commitment to human rights and governance and improve its economic policies if it’s to access the US$350 million energy grant being withheld, new US ambassador to Malawi said on Thursday.

The U.S.A’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) froze its five year grant over human rights concerns and after President Bingu wa Mutharika’s security forces killed 20 unarmed civilians during rallies in July.

“To get the MCC Compact back on track, it is up to Malawi to re-affirm its commitment to political pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law through concrete, positive actions…” said Ambassador Jeanine Jackson when she presented her letters of credentials to President Mutharika.

Jackson said when Malawi signed the compact agreement with MCC on April 7th of this year, government assured the USA of commitment to democracy, good governance and rule of law, and observance of fundamental human rights.

She said the MCC places a high value on the practice of good governance and democracy but a number of incidents over the course of the past six months, the U.S. Government have concerns about governance and economic policy in Malawi which has unfortunately led to an operational hold on the MCC Compact.

The ambassadors remarks come after a US congressman petitioned President Obama to remove Malawi the MCC programes because of its worsening human rights record. “ We await the results of the Commission of Inquiry investigating the events during the demonstrations of July 20,” she said.

Major aid donors suspended packages worth around $1 billion over concerns about human rights abuses and maladministration by Mutharika, who drew international condemnation when his forces killed protesters. Malawi relies on foreign aid for about 40 percent of its budget. The aid freeze has left a yawning hole in state finances and intensified a dollar shortage.