Malawi. According to Countryaah official site, Malawi’s relations with the Western world deteriorated dramatically in 2011. Strong protests were heard from the outside world and the political opposition when President Bingu wa Mutharika signed a media law in January to ban publications that “adversely affect the country’s interests”. The law was widely interpreted as a preparation for being able to silence media criticizing the president and his government.
The Media Act prompted Germany to stop the payment of the equivalent of SEK 23 million from a larger aid package and to cancel a visit by a secretary of state at the last moment. A number of Western aid donors jointly expressed their concern over “negative trends” in Malawian politics, also aimed at the government’s refusal to legalize gay relations.
In April, the government expelled Britain’s envoy since it leaked to media that he had called Mutharika “increasingly authoritarian and unwilling to take criticism”. Britain responded by sending Malawi’s ambassador home and freezing its budget assistance to the country. In July, the United States decided to withhold a $ 350 million loan to Malawi’s energy sector after 19 people were killed during two days of protests against the government’s economic policies. Two days later, Iran pledged $ 50 million to develop the mining industry in Malawi.
The fierce international criticism in December led to the government pledging to review a number of controversial laws, including the ban on gay relationships.
In July, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stopped payments of a $ 79.4 million three-year aid package because the government failed to implement the economic reforms required by the IMF and did not want to devalue the country’s currency, kwacha. Now the central bank gave it and wrote down the value of kwachan by 10% and tightened the rules for handling foreign currency.
The government sought to reduce the wastage of the Treasury by forcing all 169,000 public servants to open bank accounts. By cash payouts, the equivalent of about SEK 100 million a year is said to have disappeared to “ghost workers”, non-existent persons who have been on the payrolls. At the same time as the state tried to block this gap, MPs voted to nearly triple their own salaries to a level more than 60 times the average public employee’s salary.
President Mutharika rejected all demands to resign after the bloody riots in July but instead dismissed the entire government in August. For three weeks he took care of all ministerial posts, which, according to critics, caused the government’s work to almost stop. When he then appointed a heavily slimmed-down cabinet, he was criticized for having made his wife Minister of Women Affairs and his brother Minister of Foreign Affairs. Vice President Joyce Banda, who openly criticized the shooting deaths of protesters, did not get his post back and no other vice president was appointed, a decision that was challenged constitutionally.