When President Peter Mutharika announced that he wants to construct the stadia for Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Be forward, mixed reactions came up like a can of worms.

Many people including Human Right activists in the country led by Timothy Mtambo faulted the move describing it as political in nature while others described the President as being inconsiderate considering the economic downturn currently being faced.

Patrick James a resident at Manja Township disagreed with the decision saying NBB and Wonders are private entities.

“According to my knowledge I don’t think the government is right by wanting to construct a stadium as it is not supposed to use taxpayer’s money that can be used in developing other important projects in the country.

Another resident in Blantyre George Simeta said government should not rush in doing things but must slow down and look at the priorities first.

“Of course we know that Bullets and wonders clubs are teams that have been there for quite a long time. In other countries abroad big clubs like these two have their own stadiums but here in our country we still have more priorities than building stadiums,” said Simeta.

Simeta added that Malawi government has issues like shortage of drugs in hospitals.

. A development economist described the move as a political one, noting that sometimes government undertakes projects based on the need to appease growth.

“Stadium is an expensive structure but in the long run, the projects are good as the country needs good sport facilities,” said Lombe.

Felix Lombe further questioned the rationale considering that the need for stadiums is not really there as there are existing structures.

“Would a stadium at this point be important? The decision is really a political one. These projects have costed us without a proper cost benefit analysis being undertaken,” said Lombe.

Lombe however sees nothing wrong government supporting strategic private enterprises directly or indirectly depending on the strategic importance of the project.

 

He cited sunbird which is managed by a private entity but has government shareholding.

He also challenged authorities to come out clearly on how the stadiums will be managed, and proposed that government should have a stake in the project.

Another concerned citizen Lucy Zeb said it is not good for the government to construct those stadiums now.

“The government should first renovate big stadiums like Kamuzu stadium, then they can think of constructing other stadiums. If the government fails to renovate the old stadiums, how can it construct two stadiums one time? The government will need to cough out a lot of money in the project,” said Zeb.

Contrary to Zeb’s remarks, Louice Zakeya said the government is right by constructing those stadiums because it will generate money from it.

“The government should go ahead with the project because it will make money from it since the stadiums will be hosting football games all the time, the government will also be collecting taxes from it.To me I feel the government is right by doing so,” said Zakeya.

Another economist Wilson Gondwe faulted the project saying it is wrong to have such expenses in the proposed budget for 2019-2020.

According to him, the best way is to upgrade Mzuzu, Civo and Kamuzu stadiums.

“Nyasa Company and Be Forward are investors in the country. It is their responsibility to build these facilities not otherwise,” he said.

Another commentator Mary Phiri from Blantyre said the government should think of other things other than constructing the two stadiums. Phiri said the government should consider shortages of drugs in hospitals.

“There are many projects the government can consider other than spending money on stadiums. Right now we need things like drugs in hospital. The government can also think of constructing school blocks for students who learn under a tree in some areas in the country,” said Phiri.

Another Citizen Brenda Chiunji said the president is not doing well, instead he should use the money for health issues.

“The president should not use taxpayers’ money to construct the stadiums, he should use the money to buy drugs in the hospitals,” she said.

Meanwhile fierce government critic Henry Kachaje has taken a different point of view saying the construction of the two stadiums may make a difference in people’s lives.

“Malawians are just too focused on the dire needs around them, forgetting such spending can help improve their live. Look this country will always have dire needs. We will have the poor in majority for decades, if not centuries to come. Should we wait till all schools, hospitals roads, bridges, are built before we invest in football?” queried Kachaje.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Timothy Mtambo said if Mutharika had indeed included funding allocation to the projects in the national budget, his organization would lobby to have it rejected and instead channels the funding to the health and education sector.

He said if Mutharika wanted to contribute financially to the two private football firms, he would have used personal funds and not taxpayers’ money.

“If not let Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) bankroll that project in its own way. Furthermore, the party should explicitly demonstrate to Malawians the source of the finances. Otherwise, we cannot allow abuse of public resources on private entities when we are already struggling financially as a country,” said Mtambo.

Sosten Gwengwe Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance said in a separate interview that his committee was interested to see the vote government would use to finance firms.

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