UK suspends aid to Malawi
Pride comes at a cost. In an escalation of diplomatic tension, the United Kingdom has frozen new aid to Malawi. Following the departure of the British High Commissioner –expelled by Mutharika after a leaked memo by the envoy expressed concern about Malawi governance and rights–, Mutharika was quoted as saying:
“We can’t accept that someone, just because he is coming from a country that gives us money, should come here and start insulting the government, starts insulting me, your leader,” said Mutharika after the envoy had left the country.
The finance minister has said that budgets will be tightened in response.
Some relevant facts:
- 40% of Malawi’s budget relies on aid.
- Britain is Malawi’s largest donor.
- An estimate using aiddata.org puts 2008 aid from Britain to Malawi at $122 million.
- DfID reports in the fiscal year 2009/10 spending over $120 million (39% of which went to health).
Relatedly, courtesy visa services to visit the UK for VIPs including the president have also been suspended.
I haven’t seen much in the Twitterverse about citizens’ responses, so am curious to know what ordinary Malawians think. Perhaps it is too soon to tell. We’ll be in Malawi in August and will try to learn more then…