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Michael Usi embarrassed with Blantyre Cultural Centre state

Government offers office space to artists

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Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi on Tuesday toured Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) where said he was embarrassed with its state.

BCC formerly French Cultural Centre (FCC) which was bought by the government at K300 million was ransacked by thieves in 2011.

The renovation of the once mighty entertainment mecca has moved at a snail’s pace and the creative industry has decried the delays.

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“Let me say that as a Malawian citizen, I am embarrassed because the French left the infrastructure in good condition but it has taken us time to renovate it. It is too much to believe that a responsible government, ministry or department would ignore this facility to the point that it is getting more and more dilapidated,” Usi said.

He said the biggest challenge in the country was that it does not focus on achievements but rather it celebrates activities.

“How much money was allocated to the rehabilitation? At the moment we have a new contractor, after the previous contractor failed in the work. We have not exhausted what happened to the previous contractor. This is our infrastructure and it is our gold mine, we need to adopt a culture of business for this facility so that artists’ welfare can be improved,” the minister said.

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He observed that the facility was not like this in the past hence they would sit down as a ministry and rethink.

“Malawi is wasteful on things. It is a good thing to engage a new contractor but we need to solve the problems on the ground and have this facility back to its shape and functioning,” Usi said.

Director of Arts Humphrey Mpondaminga, said they were currently in third phase of the renovation which covers perimeter fence, manager’s house which commenced in September 2019 and the Amphitheatre.

“For the Amphitheatre we are re-designing the roof. We can also say that at the moment over 60 percent of the works have been done,” Mpondaminga said.

He said that the estimated cost for the renovation were K350 million in 2012 but was quick to say that there was not much which was done in the first two years.

“So we linked up with building department and the amount was revised to K450 million,” Mpondaminga said.

He admitted that the previous contractor delayed in the works and that he did not do well hence terminating the contract and bringing in a new contractor, who was now doing the works.

Meanwhile, Usi on Wednesday during an interaction with artists also announced that his ministry had offered office space to arts associations.

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