Malawi hopes Tyson will be a knock-out with investors
The Malawi Government has appointed former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, to be its “Cannabis Ambassador’. The country’s Agriculture Department confirmed on 26 November 2021 that Minister Lobin Low had sent a letter to Tyson, inviting him to be the face of Malawi cannabis and to use his influence to attract investors and boost tourism.
The Ministry did not say whether Tyson, who became the youngest heavyweight champion in history in 1986, had accepted its offer.
Critics say the champ’s rape conviction should disqualify him as cannabis ambassador
However, this has created a backlash, with several organizations saying his appointment is inappropriate given his conviction for rape in the 1990’s. The 55-year-old boxer was jailed in 1992 after being convicted of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black America contestant, in a hotel room. He was released in 1995.
The Malawian think tank the Centre for Public Accountability (CPA) last week accused the government of ignoring Tyson’s past convictions and said a more socially-acceptable cannabis ambassador should be appointed.
CPA Acting Director Kondwani Munthali, said in a statement sent to CNN on 26 November 2021 that appointing a convicted rapist would be “wrong,” adding: “Yes he paid his debt three years he was in jail, but we are saying to be the face of a nation is something beyond reformatory. We would want (a) less controversial character than Tyson.”
Agriculture Dept: ‘Tyson is a right and reformed person’
However, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu dismissed the criticism in a statement to , saying: “Malawi as a nation believes that Mr. Tyson is a right and reformed person as he was released on parole.”
Lungu added that “the moral appeal by some quarters, to continue holding Mr. Tyson to a wall of moral incapacity doesn’t hold water.”
Minister of Gender, Patricia Kaliati, echoed Lungu’s sentiments. She told CNN that she did not see there being a problem with the government’s choice of ambassador as Tyson is a prominent businessman with a good knowledge of the cannabis business.
Gender Ministry: Don’t worry, he won’t be working with women and children!
“It’s about business, (and) economic business of cannabis,” Kaliati said, adding: “We look for the prominent people, the decision makers who can say a thing which can be recognized internationally.”
She said that his role would be focused on business and “he’s not going to be working with the minister of gender on issues to do with women and children.”
Malawi legalized the growing and processing of cannabis for medicinal purposes last year.