Though there is an international travel ban, which is being adhered to, President Lazarus Chakwera’s DRC trip is a must and a necessity as Malawi has deeper security and investment engagements with DRC which demands the Malawi leader to meet his counterpart as he begins his second term, a governance expert has said.
Weighing in on the debate, Governance and Human Rights Advocate Undule Mwakasungula says he is even surprised with the noise some Malawians are making over the trip President Chakwera has undertaken to Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday.
Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (CSAT) Executive Director, Willie Kambwandira, told the local media that by undertaking a trip to DRC amidst his own instituted travel ban, President Chakwera demonstrated lack of seriousness.
But Mwakasungula held a different viewpoint, arguing that Chakwera’ presence at the swearing-in ceremony for the new leader in DRC should not be perceived with political eyes.
“I don’t see any reason to make noise while the President is traveling for the sale of the nation. This is part of his job description, let us appreciate these international trips without politics or hidden agendas. Malawi is not an island.
The importance of the president’s international trips, such as the one where President Lazarus Chakwera is breaking international travel suspension to attend the swearing-in ceremony for Felix Tshisekedi in DRC Congo, can be viewed from several angles,” he said.
Mwakasungula further stated that presidential visits to foreign countries strengthen diplomatic ties between nations, adding that President Chakwera’s presence at the swearing-in ceremony for Felix Tshisekedi indicates Malawi’s support and goodwill towards the incoming president of the DRC.
He said this would help in fostering a positive relationship between the two nations, potentially leading to cooperation on various fronts, including trade, security, and regional stability.
“Such trips often provide an opportunity to negotiate and sign bilateral agreements or memorandum of understandings (MOUs) with the host country. These agreements can cover a wide range of areas, including trade, investment, and cooperation in various sectors, which can have long-term economic and political benefits for our country.
“Presidents’ participation in international events allows them to engage in discussions on regional and global issues. They can collaborate with other leaders to address common challenges such as peacekeeping and others. These interactions contribute to collective efforts in finding solutions to global problems.
“Presidential visits can also promote economic opportunities for the home country. They can attract foreign investment, open new markets for Malawian products and services, and create a positive image of the country internationally, which can benefit various sectors of the economy. Strengthening International Influence: Being present at important international events allows a country’s leader to have a say in shaping the global agenda and representing their nation’s interests on the world stage. This can enhance Malawi’s influence and visibility in international affairs,” he explained.
Mwakasungula further stated that any president’s participation in international events demonstrates solidarity and support for fellow nations in times of transition or celebration, such as a presidential inauguration. It can strengthen bonds of friendship and cooperation among nations.
He said it is therefore important to note that international trips by the president can have great benefits to our country and must be planned to ensure they align with the nation’s priorities.