Malawi Government’s decision to move the seat of Government from Zomba to Lilongwe rendered Malawi National Assembly homeless. For years, parliament had to be enduring the embarrassment of sharing Kamuzu Palace with a Head of State.
But things started taking a great turn after Malawi established diplomatic ties with the Peoples Republic of China in 2007, which apart from trade agreements, the ties came along with a $40 million grant to Malawi for the construction of a national assembly building.
In December 2008, China provided a $40 million grant to Malawi for the construction of a national assembly building. Work was contracted to the Chinese company Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group Co., Ltd and construction began in February 2009.
A magnificent architectural design, the new parliament building has the capacity of 288 seats. The modern and high-tech facilities include CCTV security devices, offices and cabinet room, presidential suite, press gallery and public gallery, electronic voting system, LCD TV system, banking facilities, and a library. It is a magnificent and spacious building. Apart from the main chamber which sits the legislators and the Speaker of the National Assembly, the building has various offices, including a gymnasium in the ground floor and special prayer rooms. It has a parade ground, a colonnade and a place where those not impressed with parliament proceedings could go and gather.
Meal times is just a minute-walk for both parliamentarians and visitors into their comfortable cafeteria.
For the media, there is more space for the broadcasting media, on top of fully equipped studios for the Malawi’s national broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
Construction finished in May 2010 and the Parliament building was inaugurated that same month.
Malawi’s president, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, has since declared himself satisfied with his government’s relations with China. Mutharika said the Chinese projects come with “no strings attached”. The People’s Republic of China has demonstrated that they are good friends of Malawi,” he said.
President Mutharika described the bilateral relations with Malawi as one of the best, stressing that several infrastructure projects that China has provided to this country should make Malawians confident of the partnership.
Said Mutharika: “This is a sign of strength of bilateral relations that exist between China and Malawi. The Chinese are our friends and there are no conditions at all attached to these projects.
He said Malawi has benefited greatly from its relationship with China, pointing to the construction of the Malawi Parliament building, Bingu National Stadium, the Karonga-Chitipa Road in the northern region, the Bingu Conference Center and Hotel, the University of Science and Technology and the Presidential Villas as some of the benefits Malawi has gained from China as a result of their diplomatic relationship.
Speaking during hand over to the Malawian government in a very colorful ceremony held at the new parliament site in the Malawian capital Lilongwe, the leader of the delegation from China, Li Zhaoxing who is also chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, described the new parliament building as the fruit of the hard work and cooperation of the two countries.
In his remarks, the then Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika described the building as a great milestone for the country.
“I am delighted that my dream has come true. The construction of this parliament (building) is an extremely important milestone for the Malawi government and I am glad that China has delivered its promises in time,” said the president.
He also said the modern technology and facilities that had been installed in the new parliament would offer a conducive environment for members of parliament to interface with the electorate and other interest groups.
Taking his turn, the then Speaker for the Malawi National Assembly, Henry Chimunthu Banda, also described the new parliament building as a great relief to the legislature.
“With this building, China has given the legislature not only a home, but a decent home…Today marks a new chapter of parliament democracy in Malawi and we are very proud to be part of that history,” said the speaker.
Li said, “The new parliament building is the fruit of the win- win cooperation between the two governments, a monument to the China-Malawi friendship and the wisdom and hard work of the contractors.”
Li also said the inauguration of the parliament structure proved China’s commitment to developing Malawi and other African countries.
He added that the new parliament building is a fruit of the close cooperation between the Chinese and Malawian governments, a monument to the China-Malawi friendship.
“The Chinese government is “true in word and resolute in deed”. It has honored its commitment of assistance to Malawi, and the inauguration of this building is a good example. That, we believe, will give a further boost to our friendly ties and provide a strong stimulus to the economic and social development in Malawi.
He said the relationship between the two countries has been developing well and fast on the basis of mutual respect, sincerity, equality, mutual benefit and win-win progress.
“China and Malawi are both developing countries, and we both face the huge task of national development and improvement of living standards. To consolidate our relations serves the fundamental interest of both.
“The Chinese people cherish friendly feelings towards the people of Malawi. Our cooperation promises a bright future. China will always be a good friend, good partner and good brother of Malawi.” He said.
The building is the final resting place for Malawi’s Parliament which sat in Zomba for decades, then April 2000 moved on to Lilongwe New State House now.