Last week, I had a rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with the State President and this accidental (unarranged) meeting occurred in a very informal setup. I took the opportunity to complementary ask the President:
“Mr. President, I work for Shire Times and I have a question of interest. You continually admit that our country’s economy is miserable and that you are implementing surgical efforts to raise it from its deathbed. Whilst it is yet to stand on its feet with life, you are implementing various flagship developments not to mention of the modernized road network in the capital and various other improved roads across the country. How are you reconciling our poor economy and delivering of capital-intensive projects at the same time?”
The look in his eyes was accompanied with a sharp smile which gave way to a subtle remark: “I am allergic to empty promises”. Immediately, I remembered that the President is a philosophy scholar and I drifted myself into that philosophical mode. Anyway, this, as I have said, was not an official interview with the State President so I did not have a series of questions prepared for him. Neither was it my moment with him so I could not slice more of his time to myself.
Today, when I saw an intention to award contracts to 74 firms to construct police and military officers houses across the country, as issued by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, the president’s remarks that “I am allergic to empty promises” hit an echo.
When you are coming from Blantyre and entering Lilongwe through the M1 road, you are greeted with a horrible sight of funny houses soon after Simama Hotel. Those houses, which are right at the navel of the town are for police houses. There is no question to a quick conclusion that most of these houses are in a leaking mode. They have been like like since time immemorial. Built during the formation years of our great republic, these houses have never been subjected to any renovation or upgrading.
When President Chakwera came to the leadership scene, he committed his administration to a task of building 10,000 modern houses worthy a degree of decency for the country’s security agents officers. He targeted the police, the military and the Malawi prison service. On 17th July last year, the president presided over the official handover of ten of the promised houses for police officers at Malamia Police Mobile Service Camp at Malindi in Mangochi. That was the genesis of his delivering on his promise of constructing better housing units for security agents in the country. By this time, works on 10 houses for police officers at Jenda Police Station in Mzimba District were under construction and have since been completed and handed over.
Fast-forward to November 2023, the total number of houses constructed across the country has reached 5,000 entailing half-way the targeted journey to 10,000 housing units. This is an enormous feat by all measure and President Chakwera looks so determined to complete his promise to the its last shape and form. When he spoke during the initial handover ceremony, the President reiterated his government’s commitment in laying a public service foundation which is based on performance and results, saying decent accommodation for officers delivering public service is a responsibility for the country to meet.
In the notice of intention to award the contract, the Government has disclosed that it has secured approval from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority to award the contracts to 74 construction firms who will execute the task of building the remaining 5,000 housing units. More than anything, therefore, there are more benefits attached to the housing project— which also include both temporary and permanent job creation.
The Lilongwe to Karonga M1 Road construction and rehabilitation, a multi-billion Kwacha major investment project the country has ever seen so far, is in full progress and new health facilities such as the K30 billion Phalombe District Hospital are thoroughly operational – thanks to his attitude of being allergic to empty promises. Further, clean water supply projects such as Nkhata Bay Town Water Supply System and Mangochi Potable Water Supply have been recently commissioned by the President.
These and many other developments are being implemented when the country is still reeling from the impact of devastating Covid-19, cyclones, storms and flash floods of the past years. Yet, Chakwera’s administration has proved to be much stronger than these impeding setbacks.