Lack of money and land has negatively affected plans by government to build an integrated tourism resort at Cape Maclear in Mangochi.
The plan to build an integrated tourism facility, comprising a five-star hotel, golf course, water sporting and gaming facilities, were hatched about 10 years ago but, so far, nothing seems to be happening on the ground.
Last year, Portuguese industrial conglomerate Mota-Engil also abandoned plans to built a five-star hotel and a golf course at Monkey Bay in the same district under Public Private Partnership (PPP) due strong protests from the community over land.
Director of tourism Isaac Katopola said in an interview government does not have enough land for the project to take off and relocating about 25 000 people from Chembe Village will require a lot of money.
“There is still a lot that needs to be done before construction starts. Currently, the only land that government has is at Golden Sands but the land is very small.
“For an integrated hotel, we need more land and the people around Chembe Village will have to be moved which will mean more money for compensation. There are five investors who had expressed interest and they are just waiting,” he said.
Katopola said they are yet to conduct an environmental impact assessment and feasibility studies as demanded by the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC), but the Department of Parks and Wildlife has given the go ahead that any investor can take over the facilities at Golden Sands and start running the place.
“This project could transform Cape Maclear and make it a must-visit because it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is a heritage site, has rare species of fish and is situated at one of the most beautiful places in Malawi if not in the world,” he said.
On efforts undertaken to convince Chembe people to relocate, Katopola said the Mangochi District Commissioner’s (DC) office has been engaging the people there despite showing some resistance.
Mangochi DC James Manyetera said he does not have a report pertaining to the relocation since he has been in office for a week and referred the issue to former DC Jack Ngulube.
Ngulube confirmed having travelled to Chembe Village for about three times to convince people to move and despite resistance, some were ready to move if they are compensated properly.
He said: “I have been there several times and people are ready to move. In our initial meetings, there was resistance but things changed later on when people started asking for compensation.
“Before being transferred, we had arranged with officials from Department of Physical Planning to inspect the houses and see how each house owner could get as compensation.”
Malawi has placed tourism as one of the most important sectors that can help bring in more foreign exchange especially now when tobacco, the country’s number one forex earner, is facing challenges.