Malawi government has backed the erection of a Mahatma Gandhi statue in Blantyre describing the Indian rights campaigner as a role model for African activists.
In a statement issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation today, government says construction of the statue is aimed at recognizing the outstanding role that 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,” reads the statement.
Government of India plans to construct Mahatma Gandhi Convention in Blantyre, with a grant financing of USD10million. As part of the project, the Indian government is first erecting a Gandhi statue at the Queen Elizabeth II Central Hospital Roundabout at Ginnery Corner.
Some Malawians are not happy with the statue saying Gandhi was a racist who promoted white supremacy.
However, the government of Malawi says it supports the ongoing construction of the statue and the convention centre because the centre will allow government to create jobs and generate revenues for the much needed socio-economic development of the country.
In the statement, government says the negative reaction towards the statue is surprising because there has not been a query against naming of the Mahatma Gandhi Avenue in Blantyre since this was done many years back.
India and Malawi established diplomatic relations when Malawi attained its independence in 1964.
Through the ties, Malawi benefit from grant assistance, scholarships and technical assistance in the areas of agriculture, trade, health, mining, and local government.
The country also get lines of credit and concessionary loans for various development projects, the recent ones being the construction of Likhubula-Blantyre Water Project, sugar processing plant in Salima, fuel storage reservoirs in Lilongwe and Mzuzu, and purchase of agricultural equipment. The two countries are also enjoying good trade relations.