Community leaders in the Northern Region have joined social media commentators who observed that the administrations of former presidents late Bingu wa Mutharika and his brother, Peter, simply used and exploited former Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe.
They argue that the Mutharikas did not reward Gondwe as evidenced by denial or withdrawal of development projects in the Northern Region during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administrations.
During the DPP governments, various development projects were deliberately stalled as funding for such projects were diverted to other districts in the Southern Region.
Jenda-Edingeni Road, Mzuzu Youth Centre and Mombera University are some of the notable projects whose allocated financial resources were diverted and used on road projects in Mulanje, Thyolo and Phalombe districts.
Ironically, the Peter Mutharika government employed cadets as ghost lecturers and support staff for Mombera University, a system they used to steal public money.
Hence, as Peter Mutharika shed crocodile tears at the funeral of the departed economist at Kayiwomaga Villa in Traditional Authority Mtwalo in Mzimba on Monday, well-meaning Malawians questioned the former president’s honestly and sincerity about his and his late brother’s affection for Goodall.
“APM must stop telling people that he loved Goodall. He betrayed him by depriving the Northern Region of the development it desperately prayed for,” said Village Head Mateyo Zimba.
A resident of Mzuzu City, Hans Kachali, condemned APM for shunning funeral services in honour of late Goodall Gondwe in Lilongwe.
“It’s obvious that he only showed up at the burial because of criticism from the public. Otherwise he couldn’t come,” said Kachali.
Meanwhile, communities along the Jenda-Edingeni Road have commended President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera’s resolve to complete development projects left by the previous administrations.
Village Head Loti Chisambi said it was sad that the previous governments used the project as a tool for campaign to woo voters to their side.
“That has been the practice over the years. That’s why this road has two foundations stones: one laid by Bingu wa Mutharika and another by Joyce Banda. They have been tossing us around over this project,” said Loti Chisambi.
The chief said it was thus reassuring that Chakwera had publicly declared that he would not abandon any project initiated by the previous regimes.
Sayiko Mtika, one of the influential community members in Zebera Village, commended Chakwera for ensuring continuity of the project.
Speaking at the official opening of new building facilities at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Chakwera emphasized that development is a constitutional right and that no politician or political party needs to be rewarded for successfully delivering it.
He said this is why he made a personal commitment to ensuring the smooth and speedy completion of the various projects initiated under the previous administrations.
“Having this kind of infrastructure is your constitutional right, and building it using your own taxes does not make us saints who have done something generous. Rather, it makes us servants who have simply done our duty,” said Chakwera.
The President said Malawians need to celebrate the continuity of projects across different administrations, stressing that this is in line with the long-term national developmental agenda as outlined in Malawi 2063 will simply not be achieved.
“Continuation of development must be celebrated, not politicized, because development is a constitutional right. Section 30 of our Constitution could not be more emphatic when it says that “all persons and peoples have a right to development and therefore to enjoyment of economic, social, cultural and political development”. The section even goes on to place on the shoulders of the State the responsibility of “taking all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development, (including) equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, shelter, employment and infrastructure,” he said.
Chakwera observed that between 2012 and 2022, LUANAR has grown ten-fold, from twelve hundred students to twelve thousand students, with over a thousand students enrolling every year.
He said the government should match the growth with additional infrastructure to address the lack of classroom space.
“These are the kinds of investments that will ensure the sustainability of our country’s economic development going forward. It was exactly a year ago that I stood before Parliament and unveiled the path I will be taking the country in order to reach that future. As you might recall, I declared that my administration’s top priorities until 2025 are job creation, wealth creation, and food security.
“However, I also said that to see these three priority areas achieved with speed, we would need to invest in certain key areas that would act as accelerators, and the areas I mentioned at the time were infrastructural development, human capital development, and governance digitalization. And the beauty of this project is that it ticks all the right boxes on our list of priorities as well as our list of accelerators for the agricultural sector,” narrated Chakwera.