Goodall Gondwe, Peter Mutharika contradict
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe on Saturday disclosed government’s resolve to construct a new Mzuzu Airport in Ekwendeni, Mzimba North, effectively contradicting his boss, President Peter Mutharika, who earlier indicated that the old facility in Mzuzu City Central Business District would be upgraded.
Reacting to concerns that the Northern Region, unlike the Central and Southern regions, is sidelined in terms of development, Gondwe told a developmental rally at Madise Primary School Ground in Senior Chief Mtwalo’s area, Rumphi, that plans for a new airport have been included in the 2017 / 18 budget currently under deliberation in the National Assembly.
“Some of the people in the Northern Region feel that the government is not doing enough here but if you look at the budget that we have this year, you cannot say that there is any region that has been left behind. I said [in my speech that] there are plans to build a new airport for Mzuzu. We will build it at Ekwendeni,” Gondwe said.
Ironically, during an audience in March after meeting a delegation from International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) at Chikoko Bay in Mangochi, Mutharika said government is upgrading the airport along with Chileka Airport in Blantyre.
When contacted, State House Director of Communications Bright Molande referred us to Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango.
But Mhango said he was attending an important meeting and promised to call back later.
Meanwhile, social commentator Charles Kajoloweka has said the contradiction between the two is not surprising considering that the project has been politicised.
“This is not the first time. The project has been used as political pawn usually ahead of elections,” Kajoloweka said.
Mutharika has on several occasions remarked on the airport project, starting with the time he met Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, who led the Icao team to Malawi in March.
He reiterated his position during the opening of Reserve Bank of Malawi Mzuzu Branch, where he announced the government’s plans to upgrade the airport.
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