Malawi Government plans to spend K1.4 billion on a mausoleum for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) founder and political activist Orton Chirwa.
Government through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has published a notice to award a contract for the mausoleum to a joint venture of Hema Construction and Central Construction Group.
According to a notice issued on 2 March and published in the newspaper, approval for the tender results has already been granted by Public Procurements and Disposal of Assets Authority.
The announcement comes a week after President Lazarus Chakwera on March 3 visited Chirwa’s gravesite where he said that his administration will construct a befitting mausoleum for Chirwa to fully preserve the history that accompanies his accomplishments in fighting for freedom from foreign oppression and later against the MCP one party government.
Malawians on social media have since condemned the government over its plans to spend such an amount of money on the mausoleum.
According to the social media users, it does not make sense for government to be undertaking such a project while people in the country are struggling. Many have argued that the K1.4 billion could be spent on important issues.
One person said: “Is this right time for that while over friends and relatives are in need of help foe survival in lower shire due to floods, can’t that money be used to buy basic needs and help them? Can’t that money help to rebuild or do maintenances of school blocks or pay for school fees for those who are failing to continue their studies in public universities?.”
“Priorities upside down indeed. When are we going to be serious in this country? To honour him is by making sure nobody in this country is sleeping on an empty stomach,” said Mayamiko Mbetewa.
Facebook user Sol Madali argued that Chirwa would have also questioned such a project.
“It would be a great thing to see, wouldn’t it, if the memory of the great Orton Chirwa was honoured in a manner that befits the values and principles he stood for.
“But, and this is my considered conviction, I believe that Orton Edgar Ching’oli Chirwa, being the level-headed, pragmatic and patriotic politician that he was, would distance himself from, or at least raise questions about, some decisions and actions made and taken under the guise, or in misrepresentation, of his honour,” said Madali.
Orton Chirwa, the former Attorney General of Malawi, died in prison in Zomba on 20 October 1992 at the age of 73.
He was imprisoned for nearly 11 years for non-violent opposition to the single-party government of Life President Banda.
According to a report by Amnesty International, a delegation of British lawyers who saw him in September 1992 reported that he was in very poor health – virtually deaf and blind. At various times during his imprisonment he had been kept in leg irons and much of his imprisonment was spent in solitary confinement.