Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Tourism and Culture Ministry is to blame

If you look at the events surrounding the former French Cultural Centre, now Blantyre Cultural Centre, you cannot help it but to wonder what type of authority is put to run our government...
To start with, how can government pay K300 million for the centre and then left it without putting any security leading to vandalism that completely defaced its usefulness.
To start with, can one surely buy a house that is stuffed with all that a top-notch house would require and then pay no attention to it like it does not belong to them at all?
Seriously, this is what government did with the centre and now it was ransacked and looted and now they are busy trying to arrest the perpetrators. Wait a minute, was government supposed to take a proactive or a reactive posture in the security of the centre? Because to me it is clearly comprehensible that someone I am paying with my tax did not do his or her job well.
And I am surprised he or she is still under government employ. Heads are supposed to roll in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture for their failure to provide security to the centre.
Of course government has fired Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Daniel Liwimbi but much as I wish the reason for his dismissal should have been this one, I know for sure, it’s their politics out there.
But look here, Malawi Government pays a whooping K300 million to French government for the purchase of Malawi’s Entertainment Mecca.
They claim that there was no security because it was a very long process to secure it due to various factors including shortage of forex.
But because there is no security, people taking advantage of this glaring lapse ransack it and in the process deface this beautiful face of Malawi entertainment established in November 1973.
Looting started from right at the main gate where the guard room’s steel door and all window panes were stolen. Right in the yard a non-running Mitsubishi 4by4 blue vehicle that was parked inside was robbed of all its valuables and made to sit on stones.
The library windows were broken and thousands of valuable books stolen or destroyed. They did not spare the state-of-the-art equipment such as public address system, Plasma TVs, computers and some furniture.
Media reports indicate that the Malawi Police formerly charged long time music promoter and private practising lawyer, Jai Banda for buying the stolen equipment.
Jai has been charged with receiving stolen property after the law enforcers confiscated from him sound craft mixer and power supply cables.
The police say Banda, bought the sound craft mixer and power supply cables whose true value is K5 million but at a total cost of K200, 000.
Some of stolen equipment Police say they have also recovered include Yamaha drum set, a microphone and bongos from Pastor Kenneth Dickson of Hope for all Nations church in Ndirande who bought them at K100, 000 when they are valued at millions of kwacha.
The property stolen from the venue is worth K20 million or more.
The centre has shaped the music and drama of the country because it made itself accessible at an affordable rate. 
Maximum charge then was about K50 000 which was far below what today’s popular venues like Robins Park, Comesa and College of Medicine Complex charge, which is between K150 000 to K300 000 per performance.
It is a mockery that so far Blantyre Arts Festival has used the place because it had invited Salif Keita and had nowhere else to host him and after pleading with government they were given a nod.
The second time the place was used was when Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu with his gospel music competition was allowed to use the place because of his political might.
The place remains closed to the people – artists – who need it most. Meanwhile those well established artists who either have sponsors or have the money can be able to go to the expensive venues in Blantyre.
Meanwhile, a young talented musician in Kanjedza or Chilomoni is still waiting for the day government will open the centre and allow him to showcase his talent.  My fear is he will get tired and start other engagements and we will lose out as a country because, who knows? This was the gem that would have sold Malawi abroad.
Pleading with government to open the centre seem to be falling on deaf ears. Now that there is a new Minister of Tourism and Culture Rachel Zulu Mazombwe, I pray this has to be one of the issues she has to deal with once and for all. Seriously who should be paying for the ministry’s negligence if the delay to reopen is due to the vandalism it suffered?
Honestly do you think a story about the centre has a logical sequence? I think it does not and someone getting perks out of my salary has to explain better.

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