Malawi: What Does the Joe Biden Presidency Mean for Malawi?

President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris after their victory was confirmed.
8 November 2020

China is rising, of course; but, for now, let's not lose focus with facts: The United States of America or US is still the world's superpower, the leader in global politics.

Through its superpower status, the US shapes the tone of global politics and economy to the extent that its action and inaction on any policy issue affects millions of people across the world.

That is why change of government in US is a key policy issue that every country in the world pays serious attention to.

On November 3, Americans went to the polls, again, to decide if they should either continue with the Republican Party Donald Trump or bring in Democrat Joe Biden.

It is clear that Americans have given Trump a status of a one term president while ushering in former vice president Biden to lead them.

Unarguably, Biden's arrival will likely be another chapter in global politics as he will also effect new policy directions that will affect the world in a different way.

So the question is: How will his presidency affect Malawi's politics and economy?

In the first place, we need to understand the African context in which US presidents define their perspectives of policy direction.

We are coming from the background where Trump held little contempt for Africa both through his action and in action. He spent the entire term without stepping his feet on African soil; quite symbolic that Africa, to him, was of little policy interest to his presidency.

Further, we all haven't forgotten how Trump lumped Africa among nations he mocked and attacked as 'shithole' countries.

From such a background, it is certain that Trump placed no value to African politics and that is his legacy. Malawi is no exception.

However, it remains to be seen if anything dramatic will change with Biden in office. It must be underlined that Biden has a remarkable history of standing up for Africans.

As a senator in the late 1980, Biden was among the senators that stood up against white minority rule in South Africa. He spoke against apartheid and he spoke with vigilance and continuity.

Further, through working with President Barack Obama, Biden was considered a darling to many African nations as he was seen as a friend through association.

From that perspective, Biden rises to office with goodwill from different African nations including Malawi.

Specifically for Malawi, Biden's presidency presents both: optimism and cautiousness.

A key issue that Biden will be of great value to Malawi is his stand on climate change.

The US government is one of the key players in funding climate change interventions. In Malawi, climate change interventions help Malawians to adapt and, on the other hand, create employment for many people. Yes, it's true.

With Trump's denial that climate change is a hoax, it meant even cutting funds to that come to this challenge. His position was a threat to climate change fight and with Biden coming in, who believes climate change is real, there is a strong breath of hope and optimism.

Further, as someone with a history of defending the black race, Biden ushers in an age of hope and optimism which, arguably, is powerful starting point of Africa's renewed relations with US government.

Despite that optimism, Biden, as a democrat, presents a go-ahead of some civil liberties that are heavily censored in Malawi.

For instance, issues of abortion and same-sex relationships are heavily scorned in Malawi. Biden, however, stands for this.

Arguably, his presidency will ensure that nations willing to work with his government will have to make it clear that they will support liberties of everyone irrespective of their sexual orientation. This will be hard nut to crack.

Otherwise, coming from Trump, who publicly exhibited his ridicule and dislike for Africa, Biden presents hope and optimism that, of course, need to be handled cautiously.

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