Malawi: Blair Divides Opinion Over Malawi Advisor Role - Chakwera Asked to Send Him Back

President Lazarus Chakwera (file photo).
1 December 2020

Malawians are telling President Lazarus Chakwera to send back the United Kingdom's former prime minister Tony Blair who is in the country to be adviser to the Tonse alliance government of President Lazarus Chakwera.

The President's key spin doctor, Sean Kampondeni says Blair and two other members of his Tony Blair Institute are indeed in the country to provide technical expertise and help build the capacity of the Chakwera-led administration.

Blair has always taken the view that government capacity, good governance and fighting corruption are vital to development.

State House communications director stressed that Blair's work will be unpaid.

However, The Africa Report says Tony Blair's funding model is that one third of its expenses is funded by third-world countries that seek its services.

But Malawians have taken up in various social media platforms, saying the government does not need the Tony Blair driven mini-Downing Street delivery units which is to motivate teams to operate at the centre of government, advising, cajoling, planning and delivering.

A social and political commentator, Onjezani Kenani said it is incorrect that the services they provide are at no cost to Malawian taxpayers.

"The last time they were here we were paying each of the eight people they brought an equivalent of K6.1 million per person per month. This is indisputable. We also gave each person a house and a car, with free fuel. This is also indisputable.

"They worked with the Joyce Banda government from 1 July 2012 to 31 January 2014, with nothing to show for it. This too is indisputable," Kenani, an accomplished writer and an accounts professional, wrote on his Facebook wall.

Another critic Idriss Ali Nassah writes on his Facebook wall that a former cabinet minister in the Joyce Banda administration told him that the last time Malawi hired Tony Blair's "experts", "we didn't want them, and didn't need them. But the donors like such things. To be seen to be doing something to fix our systems, we hired them."

He says the former cabinet minister said the Blair crew fixed nothing in the country in those two years.

"Nothing, to be honest with you. I think they were more interested to report what we were doing to whoever it is they report to. But to improve and fix our structure, nothing" Nassah quotes the former cabinet minister.

However, some social media commentators linked to the Tonse Alliance support the Blair advisory role, saying he will have an impact in Malawi this time around.

They argue that modern government is not about the traditional civil service, it is about getting things done. It is about effecting change.

Blair's delivery unit concept has been exported in some countries in the African continent including Rwanda which has been successful.

According to Blair, unless African governments delivered, faith in fledgling democracies could quickly erode.

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