Malawi President Joyce Banda has come under fire for her silence on transport problems faced by people of Likoma, with Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda accusing the President of being heartless.
Malawi Watch’s attack comes after concerned people of Likoma issued an open letter to the President on Monday, seeking her intervention in the public water transport problems the people are going through.
People of Likoma, which comprises Likoma and Chizumulu islands, rely on MV Ilala which has been grounded for over 10 months, resulting in high cost of living which keeps worsening. Development has also stalled in the district.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Nation on Tuesday, Banda said people of Likoma have suffered for a long time and the President should have considered improving their welfare.
He said the President has spent her entire time in office marketing herself while the people of Likoma are in deep pain.
Said Banda: “She has just been marketing herself on the global scene and also trying to draw attention [to herself] at big events such religious celebrations and others.”
Banda said if the people of Likoma continue to be neglected, civil society organisations will take action on the matter as people’s rights are being affected.
He called on members of Parliament (MPs) to deliberate on the Likoma woes. He said both opposition members and government side have to show willingness to bail out the people.
CCAP Synod of Livingstonia Church and Society Programme director Moses Mkandawire said people of Likoma were justified to issue an open letter to the President as they have suffered for a long time and their concerns were being taken for granted.
Mkandawire said if the transport woes continue to be neglected, the development will also affect the President’s safe motherhood initiative.
But State House press officer Tusekele Mwanyongo defended the President, saying she is spending sleepless nights over the matter.
“She is the President who has people’s welfare at heart and there is no way she can neglect the people of Likoma,” he said.
Malawi Shipping Company spokesperson Austin Msowoya said the company was making progress to have the Ilala back.
However, he could not say when the ship is expected to be back, insisting that work was still in progress.