Until recently, Tony Blair had never visited Malawi. Last summer there was a lot of international press coverage on the discovery of oil under Lake Malawi. Since then he’s developed an interest in the country’s “governance” and has visited twice in nine months.
He arrives in Malawi today, having successfully shoe-horned a couple of staffers from his “Africa Governance Initiative” into high-level advisory roles with Joyce Banda’s government.
It’s anyone’s guess why Blair still believes he and his cronies are worth listening to. Presumably for the same reason he saw fit to rack up bills of £1m a year at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem while working as a “peace envoy”. (He’s obviously doing a terrific job and no doubt the Middle East will be at peace any time now). Egyptians know him as an astute analyst of international affairs — remember how he pointed out that Mubarak was “an immensely courageous and a force for good” in, ahem, February 2011?
One thing Blair is very good at is getting large amounts of cash out of governments (just ask Kazakhstan) by riding the global gravy train for all it’s worth. He’s also good at setting up mystifying financial structures so nobody knows where he’s channeling his money.
It will certainly be a boost for him to be photographed with Malawi’s president, Joyce Banda, who despite facing a vigorous opposition at home nonetheless has far greater credibility on the international scene than he does (just last year Desmond Tutu called for Blair to be tried for his crimes at the Hague).
Malawians should protest against Blair’s visit and show Banda that she shouldn’t welcome such a person to Malawi, still less take any advice from him. The man who led the disastrous New Labour project in the UK, as well as waging two catastrophic wars, can have nothing useful to tell Banda. Malawian readers will understand what I mean when I say that Tony Blair is a stupid man. He will have plenty to say about things like “strengthening capacity” but it seems that the only thing Blair has shown a consistent commitment to is exploiting his former office in order to accrue vast personal wealth.
It should be noted that anybody who attempts to arrest Tony Blair during his Malawian safari can receive approximately 1.1 million Kwacha (£2,150), thanks to the Arrest Blair campaign established by British journalist George Monbiot. Here’s a helpful guide to making a citizen’s arrest, and the rules about how to make sure you get the cash.
Malawians like to reflect on their history by observing that they are a peace-loving people. As Blair arrives in the country, they should tell him only one thing: Choka!