President Peter Mutharika has canceled his trip to Gaborone, Botswana, for the 35th SADC heads of state and government summit as one of the ways of cost cutting in government.
Mutharika has instead delegated Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda to represent him at the summit which runs from August 17 to 18.
Briefing the local press at the Grand Palm Hotel in Gaborone, Chaponda said the president is being exemplary by delegating his powers as government continues to emphasize on the need to exercise financial prudence.
“I will be leading the delegation from Malawi as the president cannot make it due to a number of reasons including cutting on government spending. While as government we value the importance of the SADC summit, but you know everywhere the president goes, he has a delegation of about 30 people and people will appreciate that we are still struggling with the after effects of cashgate. We have little money for spending.”
“The president will remain in Malawi to attend to other equally important and pressing issues that require his presence in the country. Like today, [Thursday] the president was attending the burial of one of the eminent persons in the country, Bright Mangulama who until his death was the commissioner of the public service reforms commission,” explained Chaponda.
The minister added: “The president has since personally communicated to Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe and his Botswana counterpart Seretse Khama Ian Khama who are the outgoing and incoming chair of SADC respectively.”
Under the theme ‘accelerating industrialization of SADC economies through transformation of natural endowment and improved human capital’, the summit will among other issues discuss issues that directly benefit Malawi, according to the minister.
“It will look at regional projects including the rehabilitation of the
Kamuzu and Chileka International airports, the Green Belt Initiative and the Malawi-Mozambique electricity interconnector project,” Chaponda said.
Apart from Chaponda, the Malawi delegation will also include Ministers of Agriculture Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza, Industry and Trade Joseph Mwanamvekha as well as that of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila.