Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has said government used numbers to push for the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture vote in the 2019/20 National Budget which includes funding of stadia for local football giants Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
Parliament on Thursday approved a K1.7 trillion budget in the 2019/20 financial year which included K1.6 billion towards the construction of the two teams’ stadia.
Reacting to the passing of the budget, acting leader of opposition in Parliament Robin Lowe said: “I am satisfied with the passing of the budget. The sad part of it, [however], is the budget of the youth which includes construction of stadiums for privately-owned [football] teams.
“We are disappointed because the funds should have been channelled towards more important things… They [government] won because of numbers, otherwise it is unfortunate.”
On his part, member of Parliament for Dowa East (MCP) Richard Chimwendo Banda said: “We are disappointed because instead of prioritising important areas of development, they are constructing stadiums for Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers which are private entities.
“They [government] forced their way because they had numbers.”
However, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha was quoted by MIJ FM as having said that the concern by some MPs was not necessarily the allocation, but how the projects will be implemented.
“This means that the responsible ministry [Youth, Sports and Culture] will consult with the necessary stakeholders on how to go about it,” he said.
Wanderers and Bullets said they were happy that Parliament had approved construction of their stadia.
Said the Nomads’ chairperson Gift Mkandawire: “We applaud the parliamentarians for thinking about the Malawian youths.
“The infrastructure will mean a lot not only to Wanderers and Bullets but also to all football loving Malawians. Our hats off to the law makers.”
Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “We are very happy that members of Parliament rose above party politics affiliation and saw the importance of these stadiums towards sports development in the country.”
On Tuesday, Parliament approved an allocation of K9 billion to the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture in the budget of which K1.6 billion will go towards the stadia projects (K800 million each).
The allocation also includes K2 billion for Malawi National Council of Sports and K200 million for the construction of an indoor netball court.
It also includes K500 million for the construction of Mzuzu Youth Centre and rehabilitation of Kamuzu Institute for Sports.
President Peter Mutharika defended the move to construct stadiums for the two teams last month, saying they will be used and enjoyed by the public.
“The question of why government is constructing stadiums for the two private teams does, [therefore], not arise,” he said during an audience he had with the two teams.