On 27 April 2011, it was confirmed that the British High Commissioner to Malawi, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, had been expelled from Malawi because the President, Bingu wa Mutharika, was displeased with a report he had sent to Britain highlighting the Malawian President's increasingly dictatorial style.
In retaliation, the British Government has asked Malawi's Acting High Commissioner in Britain, Flossie Gomile Chidyaonga and her dependents to leave.
I knew this news was the beginning of worse things to come and all Malawians are really scared for the country: some rumours have it that Britain will stop all aid to Malawi within the next six months. The only people that stand to lose out are the innocent poor. So that you can grasp how desperate the situation is, below are some of Malawi's development stats:
In his second term, even his supporters have disputed many of his decisions: he purchased a $13.3m jet (supposedly a Government asset) which itself led to a reduction in aid from Britain and other countries (see below graph), the ensuing lack of forex has led to severe fuel shortages, press freedom has been curtailed, he spent $2 - 4m in 2010 on wedding celebrations for his second marriage (the first wife died of cancer in May 2007), he spent money that the country could ill afford on changing the national flag, despite national protest. With another three years left to his term, I wonder what else we can expect.
Bingu has bitten the hand that feeds us but I hope that Britain can see beyond the despot's actions to the needs of the destitute people that he is supposed to represent.