Vice-President Saulos Chilima has challenged local government councils to identify game-changing reforms to boost tourism and in turn create more jobs in the country.
The Vice-President expressed the sentiments at the start of his meetings with district, municipal and city councils from the Southern Region in Blantyre on Monday.
Writing on his Facebook page after meeting eight of the councils, Chilima—who is also Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms—described tourism as a pro-poor development strategy that can help tackle poverty in the country.
He said: “Tourism can fast-track the eradication of poverty in our country, especially when there is direct participation of specific municipalities and district councils.
“The poverty reducing impacts of tourism are well articulated in the tourism discourse.”
He said development of tourism is featuring high in the Tonse Alliance administration’s development agenda with special focus on councils located along the lakeshore.
The councils the Vice-President met were Mangochi Municipality, Mangochi District Council, Zomba City Council, Zomba District Council, Machinga District Council, Balaka District Council, Blantyre City Council and Blantyre District Council.
For Mangochi District Council and the newly upgraded Mangochi Municipality, Chilima challenged them to start envisioning Mangochi as a city through transformation that will have taken place through the reforms they are putting across.
He cited the proposed Mangochi International Airport, proper planning of both residential and commercial plots and the establishment of fish processing factories as well as boat assembly plants as critical.
Said Chilima: “For example, Machinga District Council is looking at tourism from the revenue base angle. The council is planning to improve and upgrade local tourism sites to generate revenue.
“To achieve this, the council plans to upgrade the Malape Hills and the Mawira Hotsprings tourism sites by, among other things, constructing roads and infrastructure around the sites.”
In the case of Zomba City Council, Chilima advised the council to explore means of curbing environmental degradation to preserve Mulunguzi Dam, the source of water for the city which is now under threat.
In a telephone interview after the meeting, Zomba district commissioner Smart Gwedemula described the meeting as a success.
“The meeting was very good and I would also like to commend the Vice President for picking out some areas that were lacking in our report,” he said.