Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the most notable British politicians of the 20th century, died of a stroke at the age of 87 on Monday.
Thatcher visited Malawi in March 1989 at the height of the Mozambican civil war when the country hosted over 600 000 refugees.
Said Thatcher during a news conference at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on March 31 1989: “I think the second point which I would like to make and which has struck us all extremely forcibly is that with quite a high population here for the area of the country—and they still have quite a number of problems here—with all of that, they [Malawians] have nevertheless not thought twice about giving a very friendly and warm welcome to the refugees.
“They have not said: ‘Well, we too have problems. We cannot take as many of you!’ They found people coming across the borders, trying to escape from terrible atrocities, and the number of refugees they have taken—well over 600 000 already—is, I think, the highest percentage of refugees-to-population than any other country in the world,”
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Chiume on Monday said the Malawi Government also learnt about the death of Thatcher, the UK ‘Iron Lady’, but said it would react later.
Thatcher was the first woman to become the United Kingdom’s prime minister in contemporary history and Britain’s only prime minister of the 20th century to win three consecutive terms.
After leading the Conservatives to victory in the 1979 election, Thatcher shook Britain to its economic roots in a relentless battle to restructure the country.
Richard Longworth of the Chicago Tribune described Thatcher in 1989 as: “Perhaps the most admired, hated, fascinating, boring, radical and conservative leader in the western world”.
The next year she would be forced from office by her own party.
Thatcher, a towering figure in post-war British and world politics, served from 1979 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party.
She was called the ‘Iron Lady’ for her personal and political toughness. Thatcher retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.
The United Kingdom fought a short, sharp war against Argentina over the Falkland Islands under Thatcher in 1982, responding with force when Buenos Aires laid claim to the overseas territory.
She was elected to Parliament in 1959 and served various positions, including education secretary, until her terms as prime minister.