Despite all the scepticism about Malawiâ€™s capacity to host the African Union (AU) Summit this July, President Joyce Bandaâ€™s administration has resolved to stand up to the challenge and go ahead with the plans as propagated by former head of State Bingu wa Mutharika.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu confirmed the Cabinet decision in an interview on Tuesday. He said Banda takes the hosting of the continental summit as an honour to Mutharika who died of cardiac arrest on April 5 2012 and will be buried on April 23 2012 at Ndata Farm in Thyolo.
Said Kunkuyu: â€œFirst, the President said she understands the burning desire the former head of State had to host this summit and holding the summit is one way of honouring him.
â€œThe President also understands the hard times that we are currently going through economically, but she said she is confident from the support that the country has received so far from within and outside the country that it is possible to host the summit.â€
He also said according to the plans being laid down, there is optimism that by the time the country will be hosting the summit, some of the concerns and burning problems such as fuel shortage will have been resolved.
â€œYou can already see what has happened to get fuel into the country for the funeral,â€ said Kunkuyu who is also the official government spokesperson.
It is still not clear how much money Malawi will require to host the summit, but Banda indicated last week that the meeting might cost the country about K1 billion (about $6 million).
There have been sentiments against Malawi hosting the continental summit. Some have observed that apart from the newly built five-star hotel in Lilongwe, the country has no adequate facilities to handle a function of such magnitude.
The concerns are also compounded by the persistent shortage of fuel and forex.
President Banda said last week that a decision to go ahead with hosting the summit would be discussed by a Cabinet meeting.
An AU inspection team recently rated Malawi poorly on its capacity to host the summit which is expected to attract more than 45 heads of State and 4 000 visitors. The country is said to have only 1 800 hotel standard rooms available.
One of the main agenda at the Malawi Summit will be elections for the unionâ€™s Commission chairperson who is the chief executive at the secretariat in Addis Ababa.
During the last summit, there was a deadlock between then incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon and South Africaâ€™s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.