Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Joseph Mwanamvekha, who chaired the 53rd Independence Anniversary Celebrations organising committee, has refused to explain why the committee ignored advice to open Bingu National Stadium (BNS) earlier.
The Nation sought Mwanamvekha’s reaction after BNS operations manager Eric Ning’ang’a said he was not part of the organising team, but suggested that the gates to the 40 000-seat stadium be opened at 6 am to allow people to get in ahead of the friendly football match between Silver Strikers and Nyasa Big Bullets later in the afternoon.
While saying he nevertheless took the blame for the stampede that killed eight and injured 62, Ning’ang’a said the organising committee insisted on opening at 10am.
When contacted to justify the rationale behind the organising committee’s decision to open the stadium at 10am, Mwanamvekha said a commission of inquiry had been instituted to look into the matter and that at an appropriate time a report will be issued about the incident.
He said: “We have agreed that there must be one contact person regarding the issues of the stampede to avoid conflicting messages. That one contact point is the Ministry of Information. Just be assured that at an appropriate time, after the results of the inquiry are out, we will come up with a response.”
Efforts to talk to the Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, his principal secretary Justin Saidi, director of information Gedion Munthali and his deputies proved futile yesterday as they were reported to be out in China.
People have blamed the organisers for overlooking the opening time for the gates for a free football match.
In an earlier interview with The Nation, Ning’gang’a said the police should not be blamed for the mayhem.
He maintained he was to blame as he is in-charge of the place. n