The Scotland – Malawi Partnership called a special consultation in Glasgow on 29 April to formalise its co-ordinating vision, mission and working arrangements. Nearly 100 people gathered at the University of Strathclyde to spend a day focussing on relations between Scotland and Malawi.
Messages from Malawi
Professor David Rubadiri, retiring Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malawi, and Rev H. Matiya Nkhoma, General Secretary of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia, spoke of the long historical links between the two countries and their “equally unusual peoples – proud, shy and yet determined, widely travelled but fiercely loyal to their home”
The Continuing Need
Dr. Peter West underlined Malawi’s continuing need for friends.
This year the rains had failed. The country’s annual requirement for maize was around 2 million tonnes, but it was estimated that the crop yield would only be 1.3 million tonnes. The shortfall would have to be resourced (and paid for) from South Africa and other countries.
In 1964 the GDP of Malawi and South Korea were the same. Not now!
Present life expectancy in Malawi was the same now as that which had prevailed in Western Europe in 500 AD!
Yet those who came testified that friendships, links and partnerships were blossoming. Councillor Liz Cameron, Glasgow’s Lord Provost told us of her visit to Malawi, and the links that are developing between the cities of Glasgow and Lilongwe, through her friendship with that city’s Mayor. With funds from her Burns Supper a new maternity training unit was being built. The fitting-out would be done by volunteers from Glasgow Fire Brigade. Links were being put in place between the Health Inspectorates and Accounting Departments of the two cities, and also between the Human Resources, Cleansing and Planning Departments.
The Scottish Executive
The run-up to the forthcoming G8 Meeting at Gleneagles, and the Prime Minister’s Commission for Africa had focussed the attention of the Scottish Executive on Africa. Patricia Ferguson MSP, the Minister for Tourism Culture and Sport addressed the gathering, and Karen Gillon, one of the MSPs who recently visited Malawi spent the day with us.
The University of Strathclyde, host for the day, provided the lunch in a spacious gallery where there was no place to sit down. It was easy therefore for networking to take place, and there were many individual conversations. One Primary School Head Teacher reported that he had made six good links that would help him as he tried to develop the interest of his school and those around it in Malawi.
In the afternoon the gathering divided into small groups of people particularly interested in Health. Education and “Development” and debated the future shape of the Partnership. They had received beforehand a draft statement of its proposed vision, mission and working arrangements, together with extracts from its draft memorandum of association.
The feedback from the groups was mostly positive. The major points raised were that;
- individual charities would not wish to lose their autonomy;
- there should not be too close a relationship with the Scottish Executive (see below);
- the Partnership should not become a body which took decisions about the priority of projects or about which projects would receive funding;
- as well as organisations, individuals should be allowed to join the Partnership, perhaps as Associate Members.
The plan, which was broadly agreed at the end of the day, was to set up a charitable company administered by a Board of Directors elected by an AGM. There would be a corresponding committee in Malawi. As Malawi Update goes to press the steering group is putting in hand the process of registering the company.