President Peter Mutharika has expressed optimism that the Mozambican Government will soften its stance on the ‘botched’ Nsanje Inland Port and let Malawi proceed with the ambitious project.
Mutharika made the sentiments yesterday at Bangula, Nsanje, at the end of campaign period ahead of next Tuesday’s by-elections for Nsanje-Lalanje Constituency. Campaign period has officially closed this morning.
Mutharika said the issue of Nsanje Inland Port was ‘very dear to his heart’ because it was initiated by his elder brother Bingu and he would be re-engaging the Mozambican Government to revive dialogue on the matter.
“There are some differences on the issue with our Mozambican counterparts, but we hope shortly the discussions will resume so that we can proceed with the project because already there is some goodwill from the African Union (AU) and World Bank (WB),” said Mutharika.
Earlier in the day, Mutharika attended Golden Jubilee celebrations at St Kalemba (Bangula) Parish where Bishop Peter Musikuwa of Chikwawa Diocese of the Catholic Church, who also asked Mutharika to seriously consider re-engaging the Mozambican Government on the issue.
The bishop said Malawians were delighted with the coming of the project, and its abandonment has done more harm to them than good.
“We request you to discuss with your counterpart so that this project resumes. It is one of the best projects, not only for the people of Lower Shire, but the country as a whole,” said Musikuwa.
Mutharika also told the people of Nsanje that once the port is completed, his government would construct an international airport to complement the project.
During the rally, several speakers drummed up support for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Gladys Ganda ahead of the polls. The speakers took turns lambasting Malawi Congress Party (MCP) member Sidik Mia and the party’s candidate Lawrence Sitolo.
But speaking some 10 kilometres away, at Sorgin, where Mia held his rally to also close the campaign, the MCP Shire Valley political heavyweight said DPP’s continued attack on him was a testimony of their nervousness.
Mia said the MCP aspiring candidate in the by-elections was Sitolo, but it was surprising that the DPP politburo was up in arms against him.
“They are busy provoking us, but we will not retaliate,” said Mia considered the most powerful politician in the Shire Valley, after the death of Gwanda Chakuamba.
Campaign in Nsanje-Lalanje Constituency has been characterised by skirmishes perpetrated by youths suspected to be followers of the governing DPP and main opposition MCP.
Aspirants for the constituency’s parliamentary seat are Ganda (DPP), Sitolo (MCP) and independent candidate, Winnie Wakudyanaye.
About 25 958 people are expected to cast their votes in the constituency’s by-election. The seat fell vacant following the death of Sam Ganda.
Other by-elections will take place in two constituencies and a ward in Lilongwe, and in a ward in Blantyre and Dedza.