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Malawi did not apologise to the UK and Zambia - does it matter?

On Friday last week Bingu wa Mutharika reversed the April expulsion of British High Commissioner Cochrane-Dyet from Lilongwe.

He also revoked the 2007 decision to deport Michael Sata the newly elected president of Zambia and has since declared that Sata is no longer a prohibited immigrant in Malawi.

The move to reverse the expulsion of the British envoy comes after Britain put pressure on Malawi by continuing to suspend budget support and refusing to resume normal relations until Malawi apologised.

Similarly, Zambia President Michael Sata said he would not come to Malawi unless Malawi apologised for his deportation and Sata subsequently refused an invitation to attend the COMESA summit that ended over the weekend.

Many, especially the local media interpreted these statements by Malawi government as concealed apologies.

However, the Malawi government insists the public statements it released to the media were clarifications and not apologies.

Nonetheless, these decisions by the Malawi Government are a small step in the right direction in mending fences with its partners.

With all due respect, it does not matter what Malawians think about these statements, rather it is up to the respective governments of United Kingdom and Zambia that will make a determination on these matters.

Bingu wa Mutharika was arrogant and selfish enough to deport British envoy Cochrane-Dyet against all good advice from all sundry and warnings from Her Majesty's government.

Mutharika's deportation order and his other poor political governance issues have cost the nation immeasurably and we wait to hear from Britain what they make of the revocation of the deportation of the British envoy.

Interestingly, only last week, in a rare radio interview, Mutharika was on the BBC telling the world that he never deported Cochrane-Dyet, something that did displease United Kingdom.

Mutharika's wasteful bravado and piecemeal compromises have had disastrous results elsewhere especially with the IMF. The IMF has for a long time advised the Malawi government that liberalisation of the foreign exchange market is a credible way of bringing forex onto the market to support the country’s balance of payments position.

For many months and on many occasions, Mutharika vowed that he would never devalue the kwacha as if non-devaluation was the only economic instrument that would help the nation to prosper (handle the economic challenges it is now facing).

Two months ago Mutharika made a 10% devaluation of the currency and hoped the IMF would be appeased.

IMF has however been firm on its stance that further liberalisation of the currency is necessary before the Malawi IMF programme can get on track.

Getting back to deportations, does it matter whether Malawi actually apologised or it just made clarifications as government publicist Heatherwick Ntaba is saying?

Only the events of the next weeks will tell.

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