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Bingu wa Mutharika’s Unilia hostel project faces hitch

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Former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s dream to construct a hostel at University of Livingstonia (Unilia)’s Laws Campus in Rumphi is facing a hitch as the government is yet to give the Synod of Livingstonia the nod to use the funds.

Late Mutharika pumped close to K80 million into the synod’s account for the project.

The donation came in 2011 when the former president presided over the graduation ceremony and expressed concern over accommodation challenges students were facing at the university.

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Livingstonia Synod Moderator, Reverend John Gondwe, who is also Unilia Chancellor, confirmed availability of the funds but said the synod is waiting for the government’s contractor to work on the project.

He said, while the funds have overstayed in the synod’s account, it is secure and the synod has no power to channel it towards construction of the project.

“The funds are in our account. However, we cannot work on it. The government told us that we should not identify the contractor because we will be given the go ahead to work on the project. Therefore, we are still waiting for the nod to start implementing the project,” Gondwe said.

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Gondwe added that the synod is also waiting for the project of connecting Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi power to Loudon Teachers Training College at Embangweni in Mzimba.

However, efforts to speak to Minister of Education, Emmanuel Fabiano, proved futile as he could not pick up his mobile phone.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Lindiwe Chide, was yet to respond to our questionnaire as we went to press.

However, right to education advocate, Benedicto Kondowe, expressed surprise that the government decided to identify the contractor, instead of leaving the task to the synod.

Kondowe described the development as frustrating since students continue to face accommodation challenges despite funds being available.

“The money given in 2011 will not have the same value in 2017. We see the government trying to defeat the whole purpose of supporting the university. We are failing to understand the reason behind the delay because the process of identifying a contractor cannot take ages,” Kondowe said.

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