A decision by the government to make improvements at the Kamuzu Institute for Youth at Kawale 2 in Lilongwe, where, among other things, it plans to construct a magnanimous swimming pool for athletes, seems to have stirred a hornets’ nest as some people have gone all out attacking those advancing the idea, arguing the figures involved would make a huge difference if utilised elsewhere.
Let us face it; that place has been neglected for years since our good and noble soldiers carried out ‘Operation Bwezani’ to disarm the Malawi Young Pioneers. It certainly could do with a facelift. I am pretty sure that even the Member of Parliament for the area, a Nabanda, must have been grinning from ear to ear when she heard the news.
Indeed, it is a no brainer that the youth in the country face a litany of problems; top among them being unemployment, hence any initiative that can inject life in that regard would certainly be a welcome move. The previous administration tried to cook something by offering the youth internships but that was far from a lasting solution. Hence, one might somehow appreciate the uproar that has accompanied the news about the planned swimming pool project; the K9billion can make a difference to the youth in terms of job creation, probably much better than the K5 billion that was spent on the internship initiative.
However, one would also argue that by embarking on the proposed ‘swimming pool project’ (not sure if that is what they are calling it), then jobs would be created for those that will be undertaking the task; from contractors, consultants to food vendors. Not only that; once completed, the facility would play host to international tournaments, meaning that participants would be drawn from all over the world who would equally give business to Malawians. Well, I guess that is a story for another day.
But, perhaps, the real issue that has seen the scenario getting inflamed is the deliberate mystery to do with the source of funding for the project. While it had been originally indicated that government had set aside some funds in the current budget for the cause, someone somehow managed to create a storm in a tea cup when they allegedly claimed that the local swimming pool project would be bankrolled by the International Olympics Committee (IOC), prompting some to probe more. It turned out that someone was not entirely being honest as we are told the IOC allegedly came out and bluntly said (to those who enquired) there was no single tambala which they had set aside for the said project in Malawi.
As if that is not enough, in comes news that our football team is now ‘homeless’ as the ancient Kamuzu Stadium, which somebody in their warped thinking thought could still stand the test, was deemed unfit to host our upcoming World Cup engagements. Why do we always have to get our priorities wrong? I mean, we have a whole Bingu National Stadium, never mind the fact that it was temporarily used as a Covid-19 Treatment Centre. And if at all we do not have stadium fit for such engagements, should this not be our immediate project than the one we are hallucinating about? I mean, no offence—as someone who grew up in that side of Lilongwe, I would love to see magnificent structures at Kamuzu Institute for Youth— but things ought to be done orderly and soberly so as to allay any fears and shreds of doubt that people might have. Our sports authorities certainly must come down to earth and ensure that their aspirations are in tandem with the immediate needs of the sports world.
Flushing out Immigrants
Since the matter to do with relocation of refugees from our towns and cities back to Dzaleka Camp was halted by the courts, our men and women in uniform (Police and Immigration) kept themselves busy this past week by going after illegal immigrants. We are told that, by Monday, a total of 156 illegal immigrants had been rounded up. This is a step in the right direction—we should not deliberately place ourselves in harm’s way by tolerating such people. We run the risk of fuelling the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic since the illegal immigrants are neither screened nor cleared by certified medical authorities. The other danger is that some of the illegal immigrants might be militias escaping from their homeland and could end up creating havoc in our country. Well done to our men and women in uniform!
It certainly feels good to be recognised for the work that we do passionately, day in day out. This is why I wish to extend hearty congratulations to fellow colleagues in the media industry who stood out through their works and were duly recognised on World Press Freedom Day this past Monday. Being one of the awardees, I wish to pledge that through our writing on this page, we will continue to selflessly guard our democracy and keep in check any complacency. To you, our reader, continue giving us constructive feedback so that Full Circle or ‘chingelengele’ should remain an outstanding column.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).