MCP Questions Legality of Moving Stadium to Blantyre
By Austin Kakande
President Bingu wa Mutharika breached the constitution when he single-handedly decided to move the construction of the Chinese funded state-of-the-art stadium to Blantyre from Lilongwe , main opposition, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has observed.
And Energy, Natural Resources & Environment Minister Goodall Gondwe acknowledged the breach of the constitution by Mutharika on the matter saying government would be introducing a bill to normalize the error.
On January 5, the Chinese Ambassador Pan Hejun told the press in Lilongwe that they have received communication from government that it wants the 40 000 seater stadium to be constructed in Blantyre not Lilongwe as earlier indicated.
Transport and Public Works Minister Sidik Mia justified the decision saying President Bingu wa Mutharika was of the view that the capital city has already enjoyed a fair share of development projects from the Chinese government.
But rising on a Supplementary Question to Sports and Youth Development Minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda in Parliament today, MCP Legislator for Mchinji North East Alex Chitete said the decision was unconstitutional as it is working against the decision of Parliament.
“When this parliament was authorizing government to obtain that loan, we also decide that the stadium should be constructed in Lilongwe . So moving it to Blantyre without seeking consent from this house actually undermines the powers of this parliament,” said Chitete.
Echoing Chitete’s argument was another MCP Parliamentarian for Nkhotakota Central Edwin Banda who said moving the facility to Blantyre was actually tantamount to undermining the legitimacy of the legislative arm of government.
Rising on the Point of Order, MCP Chief Whip and Parliamentarian for Lilongwe Mapuyu South Joseph Njobvuyalema said President Mutharika was in gross violation of the constitution by “bringing in personal decisions into what Parliament has dully decided”.
“On 11 November 2010, this parliament passed an authorization loan bill meant to construct a stadium in Lilongwe . It is therefore unconstitutional for a Head of State to single handedly think otherwise” said Njobvuyalema
But responding to the queries, Kaunda echoed Mia’s earlier argument that the capital city already has a number of Chinese funded projects, but added it was government’s discretion on where to allocate a particular project.
“We thank the president for adopting a One China policy, because it is out of this decision where we are now talking big projects like the parliament building, Karonga-Chitipa Road , Five Star Hotel and the stadium. It was a team that went to cement His Excellency’s decision which negotiated for these projects. Where to place the projects is solely the decision of the government,” he said.
Kaunda also argued that the decision to move the stadium to Blantyre was meant to spread the Chinese-development sheet national wide.
“What wrong with us considering our brothers in Southern and Eastern Regions. When it comes to Chinese projects, these two regions only talk of the Malawi University of Science and Technology,” said Kaunda.
However, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Goodall Gondwe contradicted Kaunda who acknowledged the anomaly and indicated that government would be going back to seek parliament’s approval on the relocation of the project.
“At an appropriate time government would introduce an amendment bill for approval on this project,” said Gondwe.
But Njobvuyalema said MCP will not support the amendment bill saying it would still be illegal as the construction of the stadium has already started.
Reports in other quarters suggest that government has already identified a site for the project near Soche Technical College in Limbe.
Mutharika announced a Mk40 billion aid package from China in 2008 that included the construction of the stadium, Karonga-Chitipa Road and the Parliament building.
The Chinese have over the years built stadiums in Zambia , Zimbabwe and Tanzania , among other African countries.