Following criticisms from all corners, government through Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has come out of the cocoon to defend the construction of the Mahatma Gandhi Statue at the Queen Elizabeth II Central Hospital Roundabout at Ginnery Corner alongside the Mahatma Gandhi Avenue.

Besides the statue, the Indian government is also planning to construct Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre.

But this has not pleased Blantyre residents who have formed a pressure group, accusing Gandhi of being “an ardent racist”.

The grouping argues that the Indian freedom fighter did nothing for Malawi to get such an honour.

Reacting to the claims, government has defended Mahatma Gandhi statue, saying Gandhi is the role model for Africa and India.

“It is important to understand that the construction of the Mahatma Gandhi Statue is aimed at recognizing the outstanding role that Mahatma Gandhi played in the struggle against colonialism in Africa and India. It should be recognized that Mahatma Gandhi promoted values of simplicity, fight against social evils, promoting human and civil rights as well as uplifting of social wellbeing of people. It is also worth noting that all African freedom fighters that fought against colonialism and oppression and thus demanded independence were influenced by what Mahatma Gandhi fought for. In other ways, Mahatma Gandhi is a role model of a human rights campaigner for both Africa and India.

“It is important for Malawians to note that the Government of India will soon be constructing Mahatma Gandhi Convention/Conference Centre opposite the Golden Peacock Five Star Hotel and International Convention Centre at Chichiri, Blantyre, with a grant financing of USD10million without pre-conditions. Similarly, it should be noted that the acceptance for the ongoing construction of Mahatma Gandhi Statue was granted without pre-conditions. In addition, the Government of the Republic of Malawi is not spending any money on the construction of the Statue. With the same purpose of promoting values of Mahatma Gandhi, the Government of India will be constructing Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centres in eight (8) other African countries. All this is happening at a time when India will soon be celebrating 150 years of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi,” reads in part the statement signed by Principal Secretary

Added the statement: “As such, the Government of Malawi supports the ongoing construction of the Mahatma Gandhi Statue and the Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre. A fully functioning Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre in Blantyre will provide an opportunity for the Government of Malawi to create jobs and generate revenues for the much needed socio-economic development of this country.”

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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