LONDON — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his team of advisers are withdrawing from Malawi — but insist the decision has nothing to do with a corruption scandal engulfing the country.
Blair and his team are pulling out as official consultants to Malawi’s president amid a corruption scandal engulfing the country.
Blair’s staff have been working in the office of Joyce Banda advising her on how to run the African nation. But at the end of this month, the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), a charity set up by the former prime minister, will quit Malawi.
Banda sacked her Cabinet over the scandal while a number of senior officials and politicians have been arrested, including two members of staff working in her presidential office.
In November, the British government froze aid payments to Malawi in response to the crisis.
A spokesman for Malawi’s president said last week that Blair was withdrawing his team, but insisted the events were not linked to the “Cashgate” scandal, so-called because of the large amounts of money found at the homes and in cars of public officials.
Steven Nhlane, the presidential Press secretary, said the stepping back of the AGI staff was planned before the corruption scandal broke.
“They haven’t withdrawn per se, the agreement was that they wind up their work here before the May elections,” he said.
“This is according to plan. It’s not because of any emerging issues at all.
“The relationship between President Banda and (former) prime minister Blair is still cordial. AGI has said they are open to come back whenever invited again.”
AGI, a not-for-profit organisation, has been working closely with Banda for about 18 months, but stepped up its “Malawi project” in January last year when it sent four advisers to the capital Lilongwe. — Telegraph.co.uk