Britainâ€™s Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell flew into Malawi on Wednesday for a three-day visit to meet President Joyce Banda and other high-ranking government officials. Frank Namangale met Mitchell at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.
Â What is your comment on the new administration of President Joyce Banda?
The new administration has made a really excellent start and I will say more about that during the visit. Britain has been a long-time friend to Malawi and we stand ready to help Malawi during this difficult time of transition.
I have discussed with President Banda Malawiâ€™s immediate needs and I look forward to more detailed discussions with the President and her ministers on further UK support during the visit.
What are the priority areas your government would love to assist Malawi?
A brave decision has been made already that the devaluation [of the kwacha] was necessary and we [the British Government] have been in discussion with the governor of the Bank of England. Britain will provide a financial expert to help Malawi to deal with devaluation, which is regarded by the international community as a step in the right direction for Malawiâ€™s long-term sustainable security. Britain is determined to ensure that ordinary Malawians do not suffer short-term consequences from the devaluation.
The Malawi leader recently said his government was going to consider repealing laws that criminalise same-sex relationships, what is your comment on this?
I donâ€™t think you expect me to comment on all the aspects, but I must mention that the Great Britain is extremely impressed with the importance the Malawi leader attaches to human rights and I am looking forward to discussing that issue with her.
Does Britain attach its aid to minority rights which encompass acceptance of homosexuals?Â
That is not true. Our aid is not tied to specific progress [that Malawi has taken on human rights]. The support is not on that basis as it has been wrongly suggested by the media. My government calls for respect for human rights for all, and I have no regrets for that.
President Banda said she is going to continue with the fertiliser subsidy, but your government, which supports the programme, exerted pressure on the previous administration of Bingu wa Mutharika to drop the programme. Is Britain going to continue funding the programme?
My government was last year concerned about the danger of growing crops and harvesting and that was why we supported the programme specifically to farmers by providing them with fertiliser. Part of the reason of my visit is to see what else we can do and what are the areas that need most help.
What are the other specific areas your support is channelled to?
We are providing crucial support for Malawiâ€™s health service to get life-saving machines to the most vulnerable. Furthermore, to help ensure economic stability and future growth, I am pleased to confirm that the Bank of England will be providing assistance and will work directly with the Reserve Bank of Malawi.