The High Court in Blantyre has extended the validity of an injunction stopping the erection of Mahatma Gandhi’s bust at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre.
The court’s decision followed a no-show by Blantyre City Council (BCC) and the Attorney General’s Chambers for an interpartes hearing on the application by obtained by two individuals—Pemphero Mphande and Mkotama Katenga-Kaunda.
The duo is leading a protest against the erection of the bust on the basis that Gandhi has had no impact to the country to deserve such honour.
After about half an hour of waiting, presiding judge Mike Tembo informed lawyer representing the duo, Nicely Msowoya, about the absence of lawyers representing the defendants who were not identified yet as of yesterday.
The judge then ruled that the injunction remained in force until both parties present their arguments.
In an interview outside the court, Mphande said they are advocating against erection of the bust in the interest of Malawians in general.
“In their quest to have Mahatma Gandhi’s bust erected, firstly people were not consulted as this is an issue of public interest. So in this case, the rightful stakeholders, people of Blantyre, were not consulted,” he said.
In the Civil Case Number 341 of 2018, Mphande and Katenga-Kaunda are the first and second claimants while BCC, the AG (on behalf of Ministry of Information and Communications Technology) and Plem Construction are the first, second and third defendants, respectively.
The court granted the duo an injunction weeks after a movement protesting the project mobilised about 5 000 signatures for a petition to stop BCC and the Indian government from constructing the bust.
The erection of the bust of the fallen Indian nationalist leader was per an agreement by the Indian government to construct an international convention centre in Blantyre.
In September, BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said the Indian government through its embassy provided a grant of $10 million (about K7.3 billion) to the Malawi Government for the construction of the centre to be located opposite BCC Civic Offices to be named after Gandhi.
Gandhi, a globally revered civil rights activist, was born in India in 1869 and died in 1948, but some published literature depict him as a racist.