MOZAMBIQUE - Diplomacy
Joyce Banda was sworn in as the first female president of Malawi on April 7, 2012. She is Malawi’s fourth president. Previously she served as Vice-President from 2009 to 2012 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009. She has also served as a Member of Parliament and Minister for Gender, Children’s Affairs, and Community Services. Prior to entering politics, she established a number of businesses and organizations, including the National Association of Business Women (NABW) and Young Women Leaders Network.
Mozambique is a very important neighbor of Malawi economically. As a landlocked country, Malawi’s traditional routes to the sea are Mozambique’s ports of Beira and Nacala. It is, therefore, important that Malawi has easy and unimpeded access to the sea for its exports and imports. This relationship was strained during the previous administration. It was therefore important I normalize the country’s relations with Mozambique when this administration came to power.
Malawi and Mozambique have a long-standing technical cooperation agreement dating back to the 1980s. One of the main projects is the signing of the Power Interconnector, through which Mozambique exports power to Malawi. The signing ceremony took place mid-2012 in Malawi when Mozambican President Armando Guebuza made a state visit to the country. Other projects include the feasibility study on the viability of the Shire Zambezi Waterway project. The two countries renewed their commitment to see the donor-funded project study done as a basis for the implementation of further activities on the project.
Mozambique’s role within the SADC is very strategic. First, it is an important seaport outlet for Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Lesotho. All these countries are landlocked and depend on Mozambique for access to the sea. In 2012-2013, Mozambican President Guebuza ably chaired the 14-member country organization and was instrumental in putting in place mechanisms for the proper functioning of various organs of the SADC, including the committees on politics, defense, and security. For example, President Guebuza’s chairpersonship of the SADC also laid the foundation for the peaceful mediation of the conflict among presidential aspirants and later the peaceful holding of presidential elections in Madagascar.
The outlook is good, and Malawi and Mozambique will continue to work together to enhance their cooperation in many areas. There are huge prospects for continued cooperation, especially in transport and trade. The Mozambican government, through Vale, a Brazilian company, is currently building a railway that passes through several districts in southern Malawi, such as Chikhwawa, Mwanza, Neno, Balaka, and Machinga. Malawi has been given a quota of tonnage of its imports and exports to transport using the rail facility free of charge. The railway will also enable people, mostly farmers along the facility, to gain easy access to markets for their produce.
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