A twinning scheme of MSPs and Malawian parliamentarians is the key objective for two MSPs departing for Malawi today. Karen Gillon MSP and Michael Matheson MSP are travelling on behalf of the Parliament to progress a pilot scheme that will see nine Malawian politicians twinned with their Scottish counterparts.
Since 2005, the Scottish Parliament has been working with the Malawian Assembly to establish working links to help share ideas and ways of working.
The twinning initiative aims to strengthen existing links and create new links between Malawian Members of Parliament and Members of the Scottish Parliament. It is also hoped the scheme will result in a model for twinning parliamentarians that could be adopted by other Commonwealth legislatures.
The scheme would involve nine members, three from each of the regions in Malawi from across the political parties.
Karen Gillon MSP said: "Since first going to Malawi in 2005, my links at a constituency level have gone from strength to strength with local schools, businesses and hospitals sharing their knowledge and experience.
"I have been fortunate enough to welcome Malawian politicians to my constituency and am looking forward to now visiting theirs."
Michael Matheson MSP said: "For the past five years a strong relationship has grown between our two parliaments and this visit will continue to develop that.
"Scots have always reached out in friendship to Malawi and in turn have benefited from the warm welcome and openness of the Malawians."
The programme has been organised by the Scotland Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. In addition to securing the twinning programme, the delegation will meet with Malawian MPs to discuss:
- Changing role of MPs, in a workshop with Minister for External Relations Fiona Hyslop MSP
- Cross-party groups
- Effective use of media relations
- Increased understanding of constituency working matters.
The MSPs will also visit projects and partners working:
- at the Open Arms Orphanage in Mangochi, echoing the first visit to an Open Arms Orphange in Blantyre in 2005 by a Scottish Parliament delegation led by Margaret Ewing.
- in education delivery
- in the field of mental health in Malawi
- with Scottish charities and voluntary-sector organisations including Mary’s Meals.
The delegation departs for Malawi on Friday 12 February. The total cost of the trip is expected to be in the region of £8,000 and will be met by the Scotland Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). The delegation is booked to travel in economy class.
The CPA consists of the national, provincial, state and territorial parliaments and legislatures of the countries of the Commonwealth. The CPA has around 164 branches in 54 Commonwealth countries and a membership of around 16,000 parliamentarians. The general assembly, attended by 400 members, meets annually.
The CPA is an association of Commonwealth parliamentarians who, irrespective of gender, race, religion or culture, are united by a community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy.
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