Malawi ex-President Joyce Banda has been appointed by Ukraine to lobby for it in Africa as the European country seeks to boost its standing on the African continent where Russian influence remains strong.
Banda is working as one of Ukraine’s three “grain ambassadors” who will help Kyiv identify African countries at risk of famine so that Ukraine can supply grain to them.
She was appointed to the role by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“The #GrainfromUkraine initiative is growing and will continue to grow! Despite the war, 🇺🇦 is still committed to helping Africa and highlights the giving nature of the Ukrainian people. The grain will help millions across the continent and reduce widespread hunger.
“[Ukraine] continues to stand with Africa despite the ongoing war. The Grain from Ukraine initiative is continuing to help millions across the continent and highlights the leadership of Ukraine and its people in helping those in need,” she tweeted last week.
According to United Kingdom based news site, The Guardian, Ukraine wants to provide grain to at least 5 million people in Africa. This is happening even though Ukraine’s overall harvest is expected to be sharply down from 86m tonnes in 2021 to 49.5m tonnes in 2023.
The country which is in the middle of a war with Russia is looking to use its food surplus as a humanitarian and diplomatic tool to counter Russia’s significant influence across Africa.
Banda, in an interview with The Guardian, praised Ukraine for choosing to help African countries against all odds.
“I have great respect for Ukraine. I have not looked closely at Russia and its motive for this conflict. I have looked at Ukraine and the responsibility it has taken against all odds to support and help those countries that are needy,” said Banda.
Banda ruled Malawi for between April 2012 and May 2014 and she currently leads the People’s Party, one of the parties in the ruling Tonse Alliance which is led by President Lazarus Chakwera.
Last year following the start of the war in the Ukraine, Chakwera’s administration urged Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.
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