Members of Parliament (MPs) under the cluster on International Relations and Defence last week questioned why a foreign national was representing Malawi at its consulate in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
During a budget analysis session with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the legislators wondered why government issued the representative Gilena Susana Seliman Fajar with a Malawi diplomatic passport as well as rights to be in-charge of the consulate.
Co-chairperson of the committee Alex Meja said: “We have information that the consulate in Dubai is headed by a Nigerian or I can say a foreigner who has her own workers and also that the workers are all foreigners and there is no Malawian there. What is this and why giving such high office to foreigners? What business are they doing in the name of Malawi?”
In an interview later, he said the committee will further probe the issue.
During the discussion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Principal Secretary Isaac Munlo told the committee that the lady manning the Dubai consulate is not a Nigerian, but from French-speaking islands in the Americas.
He said: “She was given the post by the former president, Joyce Banda. In foreign affairs, we work with what we have been given. The lady was offered the job during their meeting in Vancouver where the two met, she promised her that she will pay for the house and workers. The only Malawian there is an immigration officer.”
In an interview later Munlo said that his ministry was working on how to deal with the issue as that decision was made politically in the previous administration; hence, they need to see what they can do.
But in a separate interview, former diplomat John Chikago said anyone can head the consulate office provided they promote Malawi through trade.
Said Chikago: “The consulate offices are a link to promotion of trade for a country, but a person who is supposed to be there is not necessarily a Malawian. As long as she is there to promote trade, that is okay, but being given a diplomatic passport, that’s abuse.”
In the proposed 2018/19 National Budget, the ministry has been allocated K20.7 billion which Munlo said would be used to fix problems in the foreign missions. He said the problems range from dilapidated structures, lack of vehicles and outstanding insurance premiums.
He added that the ministry will also be recalling 40 people from diplomatic service.