CNN reports that some have an issue with him taking on the role, particularly due to his rape conviction in the 1990s. Amid the controversy, the government has continued to back its choice, believing Tyson—who is engaged in the U.S.’s cannabis industry—is a solid business move for the country. As the country’s official cannabis ambassador, Malawi is hoping he’ll draw in investors and generate more tourism.
This month, Malawi’s agriculture minister, Lobin Low extended the invitation to Tyson; it’s unclear if he has accepted the proposal yet. Medicinal marijuana became legal in the country last year, though decriminalizing recreational weed has yet to happen.
Tyson as ambassador raised eyebrows with the country’s Centre for Public Accountability, which has taken issue with the boxer’s past. He was convicted of raping Desiree Washington and subsequently jailed in 1992; he was released in 1995.
Kondwani Munthali, acting director of the CPA, told CNN, “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.”
But Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu disagreed, as did the Minister of gender, Patricia Kaliati. “Malawi as a nation believes that Mr. Tyson is a right and reformed person as he was released on parole,” Lungu told the outlet, adding that, “the moral appeal by some quarters, to continue holding Mr. Tyson to a wall of moral incapacity doesn’t hold water.”