I hope, as 2015 drifts into twilight, this letter finds you in good health. I trust you had a great year as a husband, a father, a friend and also, most importantly, as mayor of, probably Malawi’s most beautiful and historic city, Blantyre.
We have met before. If you recall, I was among the three journalists from Nation Publications Limited (NPL) whom you find it important to invite to your prestigious mansion in Namiwawa, Blantyre, when you were officially launching your campaign for the position of councillor.
You extended your good self to me just like you did to Garry Chirwa and Aubrey Mchulu, my NPL colleagues, and, generally, to everybody who came to witness that historical evening, three weeks to May 20 2014.
Well, there is a good reason I regard that evening historical. It was, not just because of the great ideas you shared of bringing Blantyre back to its lost beauty, honour and glory. No. Most importantly, it was you, as the person, that added value to the feat.
Let’s face it: You are not, Noel, an average boy. Even stars agree you are one of the Malawi’s successful lawyers. With your legal stature, one would barely comprehend your choice to contest for a post of a councillor. But, as time proved, your eyes were on something greater-something big that most of us could barely imagine.
I congratulated you when, even without having a backing of a political party, you managed to win the hearts of your fellow councillors who elected you into a political office. That was not easy.
So, look here now, Noel. You have been in this office for close to two years and, as we all know, you will, in 2016, be seeking a fresh mandate.
With this in mind, I felt I should write you to take a stock of your stay in the great office of Blantyre City mayor.
I know you have been the most talked about and, at the same time, most likeable mayor of all the other three from Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Zomba.
I am sure this has not just come from nowhere. There, indeed, have been some noticeable strides on the ground to revamp the city’s lost glory.
What I consider your greatest initiative has been your capacity to talk well with the private sector and made them part of Blantyre dream. You see, in the past two years, we have seen cases of careless litter disposal being reduced because one company stationed many bins within and around the city. That was great.
Again, we have seen, and continue to see; various companies taking over the management of our roundabouts and, you should be a worst cynic, to not see these changes.
However, despite these strides I feel there is so much that, I don’t know why, you, as a mayor, continue to speak in silence.
Three things, Noel. One, you have been very silent on the management of Mudi River. We all know who is behind the continued pollution of this important river which, if well taken care of, could change the scenery of Blantyre. But what we do not know is why you, Mr Mayor and the Blantyre City Council, are failing to implement the laws to bring back our river. We need answers here.
Two, management of our buildings in the city. I have been seeing some red star scrolls on many buildings in the city. This points either to the owners to paint it better or to completely demolish and build a modern and city friendly one. But if you would note, dear Noel, this started way back and we are still dancing in circles. The question: Why, why, why?
Still on the buildings, I have noted that you guys are sleeping especially in your department urban planning. You see, this is 2015, not 1972 when Indians were building one-storey-grocery in the Thuchila, Mulanje. I am saying this because we continue to see one-storey-chain groceries being constructed in critical spaces of the
city. A case in point is this building being built opposite Polytechnic. Are you, Noel, comfortable that such should be buildings Blantyre should have in 2015? We need answers.
Lastly, the issue of implementing your decisions. To be honest, there is hardly a council that can’t stop issuing public warning than yours,
Noel. About bottle stores in residential areas, about wedding venues, about dirtying of our walls by prophets, etc. But none of these gets implemented. Why, Noel, why?
I can go on and on. But the critical issue is: You are doing nice, so far, but your problem is that you have chosen the easy path, you are evading critical and unpopular issues that Blantyre needs today, one that would, without doubt, define your legacy. Think upon these things as you enter 2016. n