Malawi president Peter Mutharika yesterday said he will not protect any Cabinet minister or a senior civil servant who will be found guilty of destroying the country’s natural resources, including wild animals.
He added that he will ensure that Malawi develops a fully fledged national park, with a major restocking of endangered animals like elephants, which will be protected by well-equipped game rangers trained to meet poachers’ “fire for fire”.
The President was speaking at a press briefing at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe after his return from the United States of America where, among other things, he was honoured as a gallant fighter against wildlife and environmental crimes in Malawi.
He was answering a question on his reaction if it turns out that some of his Cabinet ministers and some senior civil servants are found to be among culprits who are destroying the country’s natural resources, as indicated by an investigative report by Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Mutharika said he had not yet read the report, which may be awaiting his attention on his desk, but added: “I am going to protect no one, no matter how important they are, or how they think they are. If they are breaking the law, they will meet the full force of the law. That I can assure you.”
He said officials of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), in the United States, who honoured him on April 22 during a dinner in Washington, DC, would be visiting Malawi within six weeks and would see how to meet Malawi’s wildlife conservation needs, through an injection of $100 million (over K4.5 billion).
“I would like to start a very viable park service with trained guards in a way that they can defend [wildlife, especially endangered animals like elephants] and match the poachers, fire by fire,” said the President, who said there was a need to restock the elephant population that has been halved from 4 000 in just over a decade.
He commended Malawi’s first comprehensive compendium of over 120 bankable projects as a tool that is appealing to many major donors who can now easily pick and choose their areas of interest.
“It [the compendium] has received a lot of responses; over 15 enquiries, for example,” Mutharika stated, adding that the Green Belt Initiative and the power sector were examples of projects attracting much attention and interest from the donors.
He, however, pointed out that good as it is, the compendium has to be marketed to the world; hence, his need to travel abroad sometimes and market Malawi at every opportunity.
The President lamented that Malawians have a detrimental habit of shooting down their own development opportunities by writing and commenting negatively about the necessity of presidential trips that are aimed at marketing national projects.
He repeatedly asked the media to cross-check their facts on his trips with State House or government before making outright allegations.