By Stevie Chauluka:
The government has said it fully supports the erection of a statue of Indian independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Roundabout in Blantyre.
The erection of the statue has met resistance from some quarters arguing that Gandhi’s name has no relevance to Malawi’s history.
By yesterday, an online petition had been circulating calling for signatures of people who do not support the erection of the statue.
But in a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation signed by Principal Secretary Isaac Munlo, the government backs the erection of the statue.
According to the statement, the Malawi government is enjoying support from the Indian government in different sectors of development, hence it is important to have the Gandhi statue in Blantyre.
“In order to put everything into perspective, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wishes to inform the general public that the Government of the Republic of Malawi enjoys mutually beneficial cooperation and partnership with the Government of the Republic of India since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries when Malawi attained its independence in 1964,” the statement reads in part.
The statement also mentions some development projects which the Indian government is supporting in Malawi such as credits and loans for implementation of Likhubula- Blantyre Water Project, a sugar processing plant in Salima, fuel storage reservoirs in Lilongwe and Mzuzu and purchase of agricultural equipment.
“It is important for Malawians to note that the Government of India will soon be constructing Mahatma Gandhi Convention/Conference Centre opposite the Golden Peacock Five Star Hotel and International Convention Centre at Chichiri, Blantyre, with a grant financing of $10 million without pre-conditions.
“The Government of Malawi supports the ongoing construction of the Mahatma Gandhi Statue and the Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre. A fully functioning Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre in Blantyre will provide an opportunity for the Government of Malawi to create jobs and generate revenues for the much needed socio-economic development of this country,” it reads.
Mahatma Ghandhi, real name Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, led India’s independence struggle from Britain in the early 20th Century and was assassinated in 1948.
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