Government and the self-branded Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain (CPM) have agreed to start afresh in discussions on the Blantyre Water Board water project that broke chaos between government officials and citizens at Likhubula in Mulanje on Monday.
The chaos saw Minister of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development Hon. George Chaponda (MP) rudely blocked from visiting the proposed intake point at the foot of Mulanje Mountain.
A few days after the event which rose questions on the steps that government was treading towards initiation of the project, the government has started engaging various parties in the chaos to seek views on the way forward.
Representing the President at discussions that were held in Mulanje on Thursday afternoon, Presidential Advisor on Non-governmental Organizations Mabvuto Bamusi apologized to the citizens for government’s lack of consultation and failure to honor requests that the citizens made.
Among other things, the citizens through CPM are demanding that government initiates a quick replenishment of trees which were wantonly swept off in various key places on the Mountain, and that the people of Mulanje should be considered as first beneficiaries of the intended water project.
While faulting the citizens for the rude treatment on the Minister, Bamusi indicated that the two conditions put forward by the citizens were mutual interests between the President and the people.
“I can assure you that His Excellency the President Professor Arthur Petret Mutharika is the first Citizen for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain, because he takes issues of Mulanje Mountain conservation seriously; that is why since December 2015 he has been providing special protection to the Mountain through the deployment of Malawi Defense Force soldiers on it,” said Bamusi.
He added that while that was the case, the President is also concerned about water scarcity problems that are imprisoning many people in the country including in Mulanje district, hence the idea to bring the water project.
Commenting on a call for further peaceful deliberations made by the President through Bamusi, General Secretary for CPM David Majeweta said government had made a smart move, but further advised that any change of tune shall mean there is no more agreement.
He emphasized that there will be no tapping of water from Mulanje Mountain if the discussions were only a way of putting them to rest.
“We have agreed to forge ahead peacefully for the sake of development and we are ready to support government in every work that it intends to do on the Mountain just as long as they keep their promise to meet us half way on the issues we are raising,” said Majeweta.
Earlier on, Blantyre Water Board officials convened an emergency District Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday in which among other things the board disclosed that the Minister’s visit to the water tapping point on Monday was only a familiarization tour which was far from the initiation of ground work that the citizens alleged.
Asked to comment on the future of implementation of the project, the Presidential envoy said discussions would continue on the matter but he was able to see enough light at the end of the tunnel.
CPM claims that a distance of approximately 3 500 hectares that used to be covered in trees at Chambe basin, Sombani, Lichenya and other key areas that act as sources of water on the Mountain were literally stripped naked over the past few years.
Meanwhile the Blantyre Water Board has convened a Full Council meeting in Mulanje, with an aim of briefing political, religious and traditional leaders on the intended controversial water project.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :