The Malawian government has stood by the decision of inviting former boxer who was a heavyweight champion Mike Tyson to be Malawi’s official ambassador for cannabis following an outcry due to the conviction he received for sexual rape in the 90s.
Malawi legally recognized the growing as well as processing cannabis to serve medicinal uses in the year 2000, but it stayed away from decriminalizing recreational consumption, a decision that doesn’t seem like a bet.
This week Malawi’s minister of agriculture Lobin Low sent a letter to Tyson – who has previously had been engaged in cannabis-related ventures within the US through various ventures asking him to become the face of Malawi’s cannabis industry to draw investors and create new opportunities to promote tourism.
The ministry has not said whether Tyson, who was the most powerful heavyweight champion of his time at the age of 26, had decided to accept the offer.
CNN has reached out to Tyson’s representatives as well as his representatives as well as the US Cannabis Association, which the ministry claimed was involved with the transaction and has asked for a response.
The move has caused controversy and has led to Malawian think organization The Centre for Public Accountability (CPA) saying that the government is not paying attention to Tyson’s previous convictions.
The 55-year-old boxer was sentenced in 1992 following his conviction of having raped Desiree Washington who was who was a Miss Black America contestant, in an hotel room. The boxer was freed in 1995.
Kondwani Munthali who is the acting director at the CPA said in an email by the CPA to CNN Friday that the appointment of someone who has been convicted of rape is “wrong,” adding: “Yes the man paid off his debt over three years when in prison and we’re saying to represent the nation is more than reformatory. We’d prefer (a) less controversial persona as Tyson.”
But Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu dismissed the criticism in a statement sent to CNN Friday, sayingthat “Malawi as a nation believes that Mr. Tyson is a right and reformed person as he was released on parole.”
Lungu said she believed 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 equality, Patricia Kaliati, echoed Lungu’s comments.
She said on CNN on Friday that she did not see any issue with the choice of the government’s ambassador . Tyson is a well-known businessman who has a deep understanding of the cannabis industry.
“It’s about the business, (and) economic business of cannabis,” Kaliati explained and added: “We look for the prominent people, the decision makers who can say a thing which can be recognized internationally.”
She stated that his job is primarily concentrated on business as “he’s not going to be working with the minister of gender on issues to do with women and children.”