By Isaac Salima:
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM have given a muted reaction to the government’s decision to allocate K1.6 billion for construction of stadiums for Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers in Blantyre.
MCP spokesperson, Maurice Munthali, said the party would not be commenting on each allocation but rather the whole national budget.
Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha presented the K1.73 trillion budget for the 2019/2020 financial year to Parliament on Monday.
“The budget has a lot of issues so I cannot be commenting on each allocation. As MCP, we will be commenting on the whole budget. Our leaders in the House will speak on other allocations after proper scrutiny,” Munthali said.
UTM spokesperson, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, also said they would rather comment on the whole budget.
“On the stadiums issue, for now we have no comment. We think those who brought the issue had their reasons for doing so. It is not in the interest of the party to comment now. However, a budget cannot be 100 percent [fine] as there are other allocations that make sense and others that, do not,” Chidanti- Malunga said.
Political analyst Mustapha Hussein said the parties’ current stand on the matter proves that the issue was contentious.
“This is an issue that involves sports and sports involve the youth. Our parliamentarians will not be comfortable to show their stand on it for fear of being seen to be against the youth who form the majority of voters.
I think that funds that have been allocated for construction of the stadiums can be used for other important projects,” Hussein said.
The stadium’s project has attracted debate in the country as other quarters have blamed the government for including projects of private entities at the expense of other development activities.
President Peter Mutharika pledged to construct the stadiums prior to May 21 elections and last week said funds for the projects would be included in the budget.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, has since said that they would lobby members of Parliament to block the bill on the stadiums, saying the coalition is not against such projects but its means of funding.