22 October 2018

Malawi Govt Orders Halt of Mahatma Gandhi Statue Construction

Photo: Nyasa Times
The base to host the bust of Gandhi in Blantyre.

Government has ordered a halt to the construction of Mahatma Ghandi statue in Blantyre but is not known whether Capital Hill has bowed to increasing pressure from Malawians who feel the statue is irrelevant.

A visit to the place in Blantyre, looked abandoned with only two men loitering around, not working.

One of the men said the government had issued an order to stop the construction of the statue which drew sharp criticism from Malawians who feel it is immoral to honour and Indian in Malawi when there are many Malawian heroes who deserve such an honour.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Rejoice Chaponda Shumba said she did not know anything, pushing the reporter to Blantyre City Council whose public relations officer Anthony Kasunda said the council only provided the space for the statue and pushed the reporter to ministry of Information whose minister Nicholas Dausi said the council was better placed to comment.

This comes amid reports that an anti-statue grouping has obtained a court injunction restraining the council from going ahead with the construction of the statue.

Some people say it was ridiculous to honour an Indian in Malawi when Indians in the country look down upon ordinary Malawians and do not socialize with the locals as they socialize with people whom they do business with.

"The Gandhi statue is senseless in Malawi and a mockery to our heroes that deserve honour and reverence for the role they played for the very survival of this nation," wrote Malawi News columnist George Kasakula.

"We only have the statue of founding president the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda in Lilongwe when so many, such as Masauko Chipembere, Orton Chirwa, Gwanda Chakuamba and the list is endless, fought for our independence. Others even died in the struggle.

"Then you have multiparty system of government heroes such as Chakufwa Chihana and Catholic bishops such as the late Archbishop James Chiona and other bishops who authored the seminal 1992 pastoral letter which started agitation for multiparty democracy we are enjoying today," he added.

Some sections of Malawians say the Indian community treat Malawians as slaves as they give Malawian workers little pay with harsh working conditions.

As the columnist argued, India wants to feel good and conquer the world through the export of its ideals that manifest themselves through the lives of its icons such as Ghandi, regarded as a racist.

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