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Ministry speaks on Blantyre Cultural Centre progress

Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC), which used to be among the country’s top entertainment venues, remains in a sorry state.

Ironically, it continues to host events.

So far, the amphitheatre is functional, as it hosts different events, although it does not have proper lighting and the wiring system is poor.

There is also another auditorium which has been rehabilitated but it has not been fully used by organisers of events, as most of them prefer to use the amphitheatre.

Other facilities, including the library, classes and the director’s house, remain in pathetic state.

Several players in the creative industry have come out to hit at the government for failing to rehabilitate the venue in time.

The works at BCC, formerly French Cultural Centre, have been moving at a snail’s pace since the venue was ransacked by thieves after the French moved out in 2011.

The government bought the place at K300 million but rehabilitation works will cost more.

Ministry of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development spokesperson, Ashraf Banda, said yesterday that they had internal hiccups not on the ministry level but central government which contributed heavily to the delays in refurbishment.

“We had problems with our accounts which delayed proceedings but this [problem] has now been rectified and I can say it here that we have started the procurement process. We were supposed to have a meeting with the contractor, who is doing the work,” Banda said.

He said they would carry out works in the library, administration, classes, film’s room and toilets.

“But the priority in this phase is the library, film’s room and toilets. Once we are done with this, we will also undertake works on the perimeter fence as well as refurbish the director’s house,” the spokesperson said.

Banda could not come out clear on how much they would spend on the exercise.

“In terms of [budgetary] allocation for this year, I should say that it is not enough so we will be going back to the Treasury,” he said.

Banda added that they have, so far, received K150 million as startup.

Some quarters have alleged that the government wants to give the place to other stakeholders to run it but they intend to use it differently and not for arts activities.

Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) President, Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, said Wednesday that they have received such information.

“We have received such information as a body but we are yet to check with the government. But, if it’s true, then we will not tolerate it. This is an arts hub and the government can give [the facility to] us as arts bodies to run it,” Mhango said.

Meanwhile, Banda has said that culture now has three departments namely museums and monuments, department of arts and department of national records and archive services

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