His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi Meets with CoST Team
by Andrew Wells
As the Malawi Infrastructure Transparency and Accountability Project continues, the President of Malawi, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has agreed to become the CoST Malawi Champion. CoST Champions play a vital role in the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST)’s work to engage with public officials in each of its target countries and integrate infrastructure transparency into public dialogue and policy. The project’s implementing partners include the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC), Integrity Platform (IP), National Construction Industry Council (NCIC), and CoST Malawi.
The Malawi Infrastructure Transparency and Accountability Project is a three-year European Union (EU)-funded project aimed at strengthening the capacity of CSOs to promote transparency and accountability in public infrastructure projects.
CoST officially welcomed President Chakwera as the CoST Malawi Champion during an induction ceremony held on April 21, 2021 at Mtunthama State Residences in Lilongwe. The event was attended in person by members of the CoST Malawi Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) and CoST Malawi Secretariat while the CoST International Secretariat and CoST Africa Regional Office, led by Christiaan Poortman, Chairperson of the CoST International Board of Trustees, joined the event via Zoom.
The speakers during the event were Lyford Gideon, CoST Manager; Linda Phiri, Chief Executive Officer of NCIC/CoST Malawi MSG Secretary; John Hawkins, Head of Programmes, CoST International; Peter Matthews, Executive Director, Cost International; Christiaan Poortman, Chairperson, CoST International Board of Trustees; Joe Ching’ani, CoST Malawi MSG Chair; and His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, in that order.
Speaking on behalf of CoST International, Poortman conveyed a message of appreciation on behalf of the CoST family to the president for accepting to take over the role of champion, the first head of state to do so since CoST’s inception. Poortman emphasized that CoST can play a significant role in the president’s “clearing the rubble agenda.” He therefore appealed to President Chakwera, who will take over the mantle of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), to use his position and influence in the region to grow the CoST movement.
In his acceptance speech, President Chakwera described CoST as a “blessing,” and that he was grateful for the invitation to become CoST Malawi Champion. He also expressed his view that CoST Malawi is one of the outstanding country programs in the CoST family of nineteen country chapters.
The president unequivocally stated that during his term in office he will make sure that “openness must be the norm and not an option.” He therefore assured the members present that he will not allow the politicization of CoST Malawi activities. President Chakwera’s role as champion bolsters official support for the Infrastructure Transparency and Accountability Project.