Government’s decision to name the Karonga-Chitipa Road, Bingu Highway, has not gone down well with a section of residents from the two districts and have since threatened of a protest on the inauguration day.
Led by youth activist Steven Simsokwe, the grouping under the banner ‘Concerned Citizens’ says it is surprised with the latest development because a consensus was never reached at after the idea was hatched two years ago.
According to a letter signed by principal secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Stuart Ligomeka, Mutharika is set to install the name on Monday May 30, 2016.
“Chiefs went behind our back as their subjects. This matter was not concluded. In fact, the idea was shot down. So we are surprised that government is writing to say it has approved the proposal by people of Karonga and Chitipa to name the prestigious road after Bingu Wa Mutharika,” explained Simsokwe.
He said in as much as Bingu played a pivotal role in getting the 102-kilometre road project together, people of the Chitipa and Karonga in solidarity remain at pains with other northerners for Mutharika’s introduction of the quota system of selection of students to public universities.
“Talk of the Kayerekera uranium [Mine], it became vibrant under Bingu’s reign but it has failed to benefit the common man. So having this road under his name will simply evoke bad memories in people’s minds, we don’t want that,” he added.
He further said that two border districts have great sons and daughters that have contributed to the growth and development of the nation but have not been honoured.
Karonga District Council chairperson Patrick Kishombe shared Simsokwe’s sentiments and wondered why chiefs are found of acting parallel to the council.
Kishombe said: “most of us have been caught unawares and we do not know where the chiefs made such consultations since the letter from the ministry says the approval is based on the chiefs’ request.”
“To s ay the f a c t procedures were not followed, because a full council meeting never deliberated. Perhaps someone wants to appease some big shots. But at this stage there is nothing we can do about it,” he added.
But secretary to Paramount Chief Kyungu who is also a chief Alexander Mboma said the disgruntled group is going too far.
He said chiefs make decisions in consultation with their subjects and it is wrong to accuse them of undermining the wishes of the people.
“Everyone knows that the road had stalled for decades and it was late Bingu who worked hard at having it constructed, so having it under his name is not just mere appreciation but also attaching some importance to it. The other heroes can be considered for other streets,” Mboma suggested.
Reacting to the news social commentator, Moses Mkandawire, who also heads Church and Society in the Livingstonia Synod of Church for Central African Presbytery (CCAP) said Simsokwe and group have a point.
He, however, warned against taking a violent approach, and said constructive engagement was the way to go in naming process.
He said: “You would agree with some of their arguments because the north really suffered during Bingu’s reign. And on Kayeyekera he benefited more as an individual at the expense of the nation.”
The $70 million project Karonga-Chitipa Road project came into fruition in 2008 soon after Malawi cut ties with Taiwan for China.
And it was inaugurated in the year 2013 by former president Joyce Banda.
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