By Duncan Mlanjira
In his speech when Parliament adjourned on Friday, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa applauded President Lazarus Chakwera for recently visiting neighbouring countries — Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania where he held various bilateral talks.
Nankhumwa said Malawi cannot afford to be an island in a fast-paced global village, which is also becoming more and more interdependent, saying the visits demonstrated the country’s commitment to unity of purpose with its neighbours in order to achieve regional integration and tangible economic development.
He reminded the nation that Malawi is scheduled to host the 41st ordinary Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit for Heads of State and Government in August 2021 where President Chakwera will officially assume the SADC chairmanship, currently occupied by President of the Republic of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi.
Nankhumwa said: “I believe these international visits give Malawi an important platform to engage its neighbours at the presidential level on a myriad of issues such as good governance; the establishment of common markets; competitive and diversified industrial development; trade and financial liberalization; economic development and regional integration that are adequately espoused in various SADC protocols.”
Whilst in Mozambique, President Chakwera and his counterpart, Nyusi agreed work together in trying to create additional infrastructure along the development corridors with the aim of improving mobility of people and goods by prioritizing Malawi connection to the Sena rail line through Vila Nova de Fronteira de Marka.
Nyusi had pledged country’s willingness to supply energy to Malawi through the already existing projects — such as the construction works for the 400KV electricity transmission line for Mozambique and Malawi interconnection connecting Matambo Substation in Tete Mozambique and Phombeya in Malawi.
Nyusi also took Chakwera to Cahora Bassa hydro power dam for him to appreciated a Malawi–Mozambique transmission line that is being constructed under the Malawi-Mozambique interconnection project.
Malawi and Mozambique are linked historically, geographically and culturally and through in terms of trade, transport and transit of goods.
There is an international railway line that transports coal mined at Moatize in Mozambique and passes into Malawi through Mwanza, Balaka, Machinga all the way to the border where trains continue to offload the coal at Nacala, back in Mozambique.
The two presidents signed a communiqué after their bilateral talks which also highlighted the need to raise awareness among border communities in order to preserve the landmarks and avoid construction of new infrastrures on the affirmed borders as a way of ensuring peaceful co-existence among the local communities in the two countries.
In Tanzania, disclosed that the two government plan to establish one-stop border posts to facilitate movement of people and services much faster, thereby increasing revenue collection.
On his visit to Harare, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa called on SADC countries to learn from Malawi for conducting a peaceful, transparent and credible presidential fresh elections without international foreign observers.
Mnangagwa had said this was the first time for a country in the region — probably on the continent — to conduct elections without international observers even from the region itself but “they were successful, peaceful, credible elections”.
Malawi and Zimbabwe share common values, history, language, and culture. They were one country under Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
Ethel Mutharika, late wife to former Malawi President, late Bingu wa Mutharika, was a Zimbabwean.
Currently, over five million Malawians are living in Zimbabwe and the country declared Chichewa as their fourth official language.
It is thus that Nankhumwa concluded to say: “It is, therefore, my conviction that these visits are timely, particularly in harnessing deeper regional cooperation in view of what lies ahead.”