One thing came out clearly when Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Shi-Ting Wang, visited Times Group offices on Wednesday: it is possible to achieve so much in very limited time.
In this case, it was the story of the Chinese Embassy, which established diplomatic relations with Malawi in 2007, and Times Group’s Managing Director, Leonnard Chikadya, who is in his thirteenth year at Times Group, although Times Group itself traces its roots to 1895.
The purpose of the visit by the Chinese entourage— which included Secretary to the Chinese Ambassador, Third Secretary, Head of Political Section, Economic Counselor and an attaché in the Economic Counselor’s office — was to appreciate the opportunities and challenges that exist in private media, and how to foster relations between media agencies in the two countries.
However, the issue of achieving too much within a limited time quickly emerged as the sub-theme as Chikadya recounted how one media platform has grown into several under his watch. Shi-Ting, too, talked about the many Chinese projects finalised in the past nine years.
First to speak was Chikadya, who remembered what he could not foresee 12 years ago.
“When I came here 12 years ago, we were just a newspaper. Today, as I am getting into my thirteenth year, we have a national radio station, a national television station, we have an online platform and what I have learnt is that when you are big, they [target audiences] cannot overlook you,” Chikadya said.
Chikadya, however, said it has not been a stroll in the park for Times Group, but said something positive, in terms of growth, has still come out of the group’s efforts.
Chikadya then offered a free lesson to private sector players, saying it does not pay to always complain about malfunctioning government machinery.
“Everyone is complaining about what our [political] leaders are not doing [but] what are you doing on your part? Everything has to do with pockets of leadership in various sectors of the economy,” Chikadya said.
He, however, observed that some of the challenges have cropped up because Malawians have failed to grasp the concept of democracy.
He further said that continuity has been a thorn eating into Malawi’s flesh, observing that Malawi may not achieve what former president Kamuzu Banda achieved in 30 years due to failure to sustain national development projects.
When the Chinese Ambassador’s turn came, and as if it were by design, he talked about the achievements of the Chinese Government since establishing diplomatic ties with Malawi in December 2007.
“In less than nine years, our relationship, though young, has moved very fast. We have constructed Parliament Building in Lilongwe, the Chinese Stadium, Bingu International Conference Centre, Malawi University of Science and Technology, presidential villas, Karonga- Chitipa Road, among others. We are also planning to do something about Chileka Airport in future,” Shi-Ting said.
Shi-Ting added that his government was keen on complementing Malawi’s efforts in the agriculture and energy sectors.
To cap it all, the Chinese Embassy donated three state-of-the-art laptops and smart phones to Times Group.
“Thank you very much. You have taken me by surprise,” Chikadya said.
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