The erection of a bust of Indian nationalist Mahatma Ghandi at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre was stopped by the High Court on Tuesday.
The court order granted by High Court judge Mike Tembo comes two weeks after a movement protesting the project mobilised about 5 000 signatures for a petition to stop Blantyre City Council (BCC) and the Indian Government from constructing the bust.
Two individuals—Pemphero Mphande and Mkotama Katenga-Kaunda—obtained the order against BCC, the Attorney General (on behalf of Ministry of Information and Communications Technology) and the contractor, Plem Construction.
The development comes days before India Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu is scheduled to visit the country to inaugurate the bust and also conduct a groundbreaking ceremony for an international convention centre named after Mahatma Gandhi opposite BCC Civic Centre.
The court has stopped the respondents from proceeding to work on, develop, and/or construct a bust of Gandhi at a “public land” until the hearing of the matter or further order of the court.
In his sworn affidavit, Mphande argued that Gandhi made remarks that Indians were superior to black people, among others.
In an interview after obtaining the injunction, Mphande maintained that Gandhi does not deserve to be honoured in Malawi because he was a racist.
When contacted on Tuesday, Anil Kumar head of chancery and second secretary at Indian High Commission, while confirming about Naidu’s visit to Malawi, declined to say anything on what next following the injunction.
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala referred the issue to BCC spokesperson Anthony Kasunda who said: “I have no comment.”
The High Court has since set November 12 2018 for an interpartes hearing of the application.