Rolls-Royces and Ramadan

In his article on Malawi which appeared in the issue of 24th-30th May, Edward Girardet alleged that the Rolls-Royce car belonging to the life president is the only one allowed in Malawi. By this, he implied that everyone else is forbidden to import and own a Rolls-Royce car in Malawi. This is completely baseless. Everybody in Malawi is free to import and own any car. It is true that there are very few Rolls-Royce cars in Malawi. The reason is that it is an expensive car and very few people in Malawi can afford it.

Second, Mr. Girardet also alleged in his article that Africanization lags behind in Malawi. This gives the impression that he did not visit the Capitol Hill in Lilongwe, where he could have seen it for himself that there is almost a complete absence of expatriate officers there. His allegation is certainly at variance with the feeling in some aid agencies that Africanization in Malawi has been a serious business and is irreversible. Over 90 percent of the Malawi Civil Service, Police, Army, and statutory bodies are Africanized.

Third, Girardet also alleged that the life president distributes land among party leaders. This is false. No one in Malawi owns land by virtue of his position in the Malawi Congress Party. Everyone owns a piece of land and has the right to own a piece of land. Indeed the government policy on land matters is that whenever there is a conflict with regard to land distribution, the interests of the ordinary people in the rural areas are paramount. The life president, therefore, has not distributed land to party members.

Finally, Girardet also alleged that a Western diplomat told him that people disappear in Malawi. In the same article he writes that there are fewer than 100 political prisoners in Malawi and that many Malawians feel that they have enjoyed extraordinary stability under the leadership of the life president. So, if people disappear, where do they go? Why do they disappear if there is extraordinary stability in Malawi? Girardet was obviously misinformed by the so-called Western European diplomat. It is simply not true that people disappear in Malawi.

C. M. Mkona

High Commissioner

Malawi High Commission

London

Assessments of the situation in the Middle East, North Africa, or wherever ought to take into account cultural factors [``Qaddafi quiet after US raid, but how long?,'' June 28 - July 4]. The month of May through June 6 was the very holy month of Ramadan according to Islam -- fasting by day and through the night. Nothing is done really in business of any kind -- whether in Libya or the Middle East. Therefore, the conclusions in the writer's report were without substance and do not relate to happenings over there. Joyce M. Ri'os

Topeka, Kansas

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