By Enock Balakasi
President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday afternoon failed to show up for the opening of Mauni Telecenter at Mponela in Dowa Central constituency, a development which has angered chiefs and subjects in the area.
Reasons had never been given for Mutharika’s eleventh minute cancellation of his much anticipated opening of the tiny Telecenter.
People had gathered at the facility by 7:00 am as security detail and protocol staff went about with their hectic arrangements to welcome the president.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nicholas Dausi and Member of Parliament for the area Jean Kalilani arrived at the Telecenter at about 12:00 noon to boost the morale of Mutharika’s purported coming.
Group Village Headman Kapichi complained that they had been deceived and missed an opportunity to see their own Head of State physically to tell him the problems they are facing.
“This area has never been visited by any seating head of state, so it was our opportunity to see our president face to face, ” lamented Kapichi.
He was backed by Group Village Headman Kapote who said he was not happy at all because some of his subjects left useful things they were doing and walked long distances with expectations of seeing the president.
“We have been waiting since morning until this time 2:20pm, no explanation given, this is sad we’re disappoichiefs ” said Kapote.
According to the two chiefs and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman for the area , Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi assured them on Monday that Mutharika would come.
However, Dausi and Dr Jean Kalilani had hurriedly left the scene around 2:20pm, leaving the chiefs and people in total suspense.
The disappointment over Mutharika’s alleged sudden change of heart not to open the Telecenter himself, evidently overshadowed people’s excitement about the project.
Elizabeth Chimbalu said it was not fair for the president to keep them waiting for the whole day in vain.
Chimbalu said it is high time leaders stopped taking people for granted.
There has been no immediate comment from Dausi or Kalilani over these accusations but inside sources said president Mutharika could not open the center due to time constraints.
Later in the afternoon, President Arthur Peter Mutharika commissioned a project dubbed Access to Satellite TV for 500 Malawian Villages which will see some households in rural areas being connected to satellite television and says he wants rural communities to join urban counterparts in digital migration to enjoy access to information.
The project being financed by the Peoples Republic of China is targeting 500 villages across the country and 20 households in each beneficiary village are going to be given satellite television sets where they will be accessing up to 21 local and international channels for free.
Speaking during the launch of the project at Mponela 2 Primary School ground in Dowa, Mutharika said the coming in of the project is a result of cordial bilateral relations between the Governments of Malawi and China.
He said the project will ensure that people in rural areas are being entertained and informed just like their counterparts in towns.
“Our goal is to make sure that people in rural areas are having access to satellite television programs for their learning, exposure and decision making.
“When people have information, they make informed decisions and participate meaningfully in national development,” the President said.
In his remarks, the Peoples Republic of China Ambassador to Malawi, Liu Hongyang said the project was hatched at the Forum on Africa —China Cooperation (FOCAC), where President of the Peoples Republic of China, declared that China will provide satellite TV reception to 10,000 African villages during a 2015 summit held in Johannesburg.
“After the consultations between relevant authorities of China and Malawi, 500 Malawian villages were identified to benefit from the project. As the main platform and mechanism of China —Africa cooperation, FOCAC has made great achievements in promoting our bilateral relations and cooperation since its establishment,” he said.
The Ambassador added that China-Malawi relations have entered a new era of rapid and comprehensive development and the two governments will continue to broaden and enrich the cooperation by creating favorable conditions for cooperation in production capacity, human resources development, infrastructure, agriculture and others.