Scottish MPs champion Scotland’s links with Malawi

18 Jun 2019

Scottish MPs used a House of Commons debate on the UN Sustainable Development Goals on June 11th to again commend the many links between Scotland and Malawi, and the work of the Scotland Malawi Partnership and its members.

READ the full House of Commons debate on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

WATCH the full House of Commons debate on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Patrick Grady, MP for Glasgow North, who chairs the Malawi All-Party Parliamentary Group said:

“The other aspect that is very important is tackling governance and making sure that civil society and national Government frameworks are as strong as they can be. In saying this, I declare a couple of interests: I am the SNP Member on the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and I am chair of the all-party group on Malawi. Malawi has just gone through pretty successful, very peaceful elections, but they have demonstrated some of the challenges that come with governance in developing democracies.

"More women have now been elected to the Malawian Parliament, which is fantastic, but as I said to the Secretary of State in DFID questions last week, some of the very capable incumbents found themselves losing their seats. That is democracy—we all put ourselves forward in elections and we have to go into them with open eyes and expect that we may not be re-elected—but there is a tendency throughout developing democracies for one-term elections.

"People seem to find that once they have been elected, they have real difficulty getting re-elected. We perhaps have to look at some of the structures and causes behind the scenes, when individual candidates seem to get targeted because they are not pliable or are not signing up with the overall majority. The civil society links that help to strengthen that are hugely important as well, so I pay tribute, as the Secretary of State has done, to the work of the Scotland Malawi Partnership.

"The civil society grassroots links in Scotland are hugely important. Many of the projects there that have partner and twin organisations in Malawi are just as dedicated to tackling poverty at home in Scotland. Many are church or faith-based groups and they work with poor people in their communities, as well as trying to support people living in poverty in Malawi. When DFID is looking at its options, I hope that it can find different ways to support networks such as the Scotland Malawi Partnership.”

Chris Law, MP for Dundee West, who sits on the International Development Committee, highlighted the work of the Scottish Government:

“We have backed programmes such as the Pakistan scholarship scheme, which has helped to support more than 400 women and more than 1,400 schoolchildren to continue their education. Also, more than 73,000 Malawian children have been helped to stay in school through support given to a feeding programme, while the Livingstone fellowship scheme allows doctors from Zambia and Malawi to come to Scotland for specialist training, which they will take back home for the benefit of their communities. Last week I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State commend Scotland’s partnership with Malawi and the many projects it upholds.”

This latest debate follows a commendation from the Secretary of State for International Development, Rory Stewart MP, the previous week. When asked whether DFID could do more to support and UK engage civic links with the developing world he said:

"Yes, and the absolutely greatest example of this is Scotland and Malawi, which has mapped thousands of amazing Scottish voluntary organisations that are working in Malawi and uncovered work that we didn’t begin to understand.

"I would love to see different regions of the United Kingdom taking the lead in partnership with different countries, ourselves as a department understanding much more about what British charities are doing. If we can get that right, we can get the enthusiasm of the British people, and it is the enthusiasm and soul of the British people behind international development which will ultimately be the best guarantee of this 0.7%.”

Rory Stewart is a longstanding supporter of the SMP’s model. While serving as Minister for Africa, Mr Stewart said in a September 2017 House of Commons debate

“…above all I pay tribute to the Scotland Malawi Partnership—genuinely one of the most unique, remarkable, interesting and human interweavings of two nations anywhere in the world.

"There are three things from which we can learn. The first is, to use a horrible jargon phrase, the civic multiplier—the way in which the Scotland Malawi Partnership, with a relatively modest amount of money, can draw on all the institutions to create a much richer partnership and be more than the sum of its parts. The second element, which has come through time and again in today’s speeches, is mutual respect. Everyone who spoke talked a great deal about equality and about how we can learn as much from Malawi as it can learn from us. Finally, there is the genius of co-ordination and connections. Since 2005 the work of the Scotland Malawi Partnership has been not to create the connections, but to find them and mine them—to draw them out of the soil and reveal to us that thick web of connections between two nations, essentially putting Malawians on the board. That is a very important part of the work of the Scotland Malawi Partnership.

"What is so striking about the Scotland Malawi Partnership is that it has found ways of engaging a whole human population. Britain could do that in Malawi or in Tanzania, Uganda or Nigeria. It is a very exciting way of thinking about how to do development in the 21st century. The fact that so many right hon. and hon. Members are here championing international development shows how these human connections give us the legitimacy and centre to make progress. I wish they would also champion international development in the main Chamber and champion the UK aid budget in the same way. I will end by saying 'zikomo kwambiri' - thank you very much.”