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Malawi dumps Taiwan for China, media under scrutiny

Malawi Dumps Taiwan for China

A few days ago foreign affairs minister announced that Malawi has switched its diplomatic relations from Taiwan to Mainland China. The news has been received with mixed reactions though a quick overview shows that a significant number of Malawians seem to welcome the new love affair which effectively makes Malawi dump Taiwan after 40 years of marriage. Malawi was one of the few remaining African countries who were yet to fall in love with China.

Lilongwe-based Austin Madinga blogging under the heading Enter The Dragon has questions which he hopes the foreign affairs ministry can clarify the benefits from the new marriage with mainland China:

My most pressing (question) is apart from promising to buy tobacco and uranium from Malawi, what else are they likely to buy? Is Mainland China an open market for Malawian businesses? Will it not be one way traffic for cheap (and sometimes lethally toxic) goods?

Barnett Kamkuzi while asking a question Which Way for Malawi? Taiwan or China, seems to support the shift to Mainland China. He writes:

Malawi needs the money. The President of Malawi, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, has an ambitious and well-meaning vision to establish the Shire-Zambezi Waterway which shall lead to the construction of an inland water port that shall unleash Malawi from its disadvantaged position of being a landlocked country. And definitely this shall turn around the economy of Malawi. And just imagine, communist China is offering to finance this much needed project! In addition to this, Malawi will be selling its main forex earner, tobacco and sugar to China. With the anti-smoking lobby in the West, China will definitely be an alternative lucrative market for Malawi's tobacco. And lets not forget that China is emerging as the biggest trading partner with Africa and Malawi would not want to be left out. Of course, others have described China recent relations with Africa as neo-colonialism but after being given several raw-deals from the West, it seems Africa wants to try the East!

Journalism leaving a lot to be desired at the state broadcasters

As 2009 gets closer, Malawi and its people are getting more and charged with various issues affecting their country. How the media performs and especially public media is a hot issue for discussion in Malawi. The country's foreign relations too are getting more and more into focus as whatever happens elsewhere politically offers a lesson or two to Malawians.

As part of his new year resolution, it seems journalist and blogger Kondwani Munthali has quit from the state broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to save his face from sad events surrounding the profession at the broadcaster. He has gone back to the newspaper he started with a few years ago. He blogs about his personal frustration with MBC:

I want to agree with many Malawians that the Corporation has sunk to its lowest levels professionally that sticking around the place casts doubt on your integrity. This is a place where young professionals fight for presidential trips, this is a place where a health story will not be priortised over a dead mans letter written in 2000. Bootlicking, gossip and the new format of shameful reporting has emerged at MBC that sticking around the place will only kill ones career than improve it.

On a related issue Peter Jere in South Africa backs the Malawi Television programme which some commentators in Malawi is a propaganda tool by government. Blogging under Of Mizawanya and Political education in Malawi, he says that the television programme is used for educating young Malawians of their political heritage:

Therefore, it is vital for the youth to know where the nation is coming from and what it went through socially and politically so that they better understand why they are witnessing what is currently happening in our country politics today and at the same time our young people shall be able to know where we are going as a nation politically. So we think these Mizwanya guys are doing a mighty job and filling in the gap that our education system could have done long time ago to education and inform our youth and others on who did what in our political history. This helps in decision making in case some of those who committed various serious crimes would want to stand as leaders. The electorate needs to be given enough information on all the leaders regarding what they are and what they have done in our history so that the best achiever could be chosen otherwise we will end up choosing someone who is not the right person to rule the country.

Dual Citizenship?
In his erratic ramblings, a UK-Based Malawian blogger Cryton Chikoko debates about dual citizenship which he says is a better evil for many Malawians in the diaspora due to economic challenges in their home country. Though not clear if he is considering to turn British himself, he picks a leaf from other Malawians who have decided to return home:

Professionals with international exposure are the highly skilled people that Malawi needs. These are people who can significantly help in the social services and development of the country. Goodall Gondwe and Mutharika himself are some of the examples. The Rambler appreciates their contributions to the nation although they came back after they had given their very best in foreign lands. Anyway the nation is still enjoying the residue!

There are many professionals who are stuck as citizens of foreign nations not because they want to but it is all for economical reasons. One Canadian “Malawian” nurse told me that she embraced the Canadian citizenship “for convenience but at heart I am a Malawian and that cannot change.” Dare you browse “Nyirenda” in facebook. There are loads of Nyirendas in the US alone chiwelengelo cha Usisya kulengelatu! (more Malawians known as the Nyirenda in US than one famous place in Malawi).

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