There has been mixed reactions to this year’s Independence Day, with analysts and social commentators giving different views on K300 million budget for independence celebrations scheduled to take place at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on 6 July 2015.
Most people interviewed by Nyasa Times and also those commenting on Capital FM radio’s Newstalk phone-in programme on Monday June 29, 2015 expressed reservations, saying Malawians – half of whom live below the poverty line – cannot be expected to celebrate independence when they lack access to resources .
While others supported the move to splash millions in marking the day as an important to r celebrate independence from Britain.
Those against the celebrations argued that independence is meaningless when lives of ordinary Malawians have not improved and the nation remains one of the impoverished in the world.
“Corruption and breakdown of basic services such as water, electricity, food and medication make a mockery of our independence because this is what the struggle was all about,” pointed out 63-year-old Martin Mauka.
Mauka said while he was proud that Malawi is an independent nation, it must be reflecting the freedom through the bottom line accrued benefits of jobs, lack of poverty, access to affordable health, the elderly being paid for their years of hard work and putting priorities accordingly, investing in science and new technologies for efficiency in solutions to the nation.
Many others said majority of Malawians still hope for a real encounter with honey and milk to appreciate independence.
A 25-year-old Agnes Kasi said independence had not brought prosperity for most Malawians.
“Why should we celebrate 50 years of independence if the majority of us are still poor and barely survive?” she said.
“It’s meaningless to celebrate when all we need are jobs and economic empowerment. This country needs leaders who can develop it to end this poverty,” Kasi added.
Malawians said chronic underdevelopment and heavy reliance on foreign aid had locked them into a new form of economic bondage.
Successive leaders, including independence hero Kamuzu Banda who ruled for three decades before losing the first democratic poll in 1994, have failed to grow the agriculture-based economy.
Chair for the main organising committee for this year’s Independence Celebrations, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said government has allocated K300 million for independence day “because we would like to cater for various necessities as a number of people will be travelling from Lilongwe to Blantyre to attend the activity.”
He further added that this year’s event will be commemorated under the theme ‘Towards Economic Transformation in Malawi for Inclusive Development’.
According to Gondwe, the theme has been chosen to reflect on the need to involve everyone in every activity happening in the country to change Malawi’s economic situation.
He then expressed optimism that through the theme, Malawi, at 51, is likely to economically transform in all aspects of development.
Gondwe added that currently all the preparations regarding the event are at an advanced stage and that the country is expected to host foreign dignitaries.
“We are expecting to have foreign delegates, although it is too soon to indicate where the delegate will come from,” said Gondwe.
Malawi celebrates Independence Day on July 6 every year and the event is normally spiced up by various activities which include military displays.
The landlocked southern African nation of 15 million people, whose economy is largely based on agriculture, relied on international aid for 40 percent of its budget before the donor freeze following cashgate corruption scandal dating back from 2005.
President Peter Mutharika — whose brother and former president Bingu wa Mutharika died in office in 2012 — has pledged to reach beyond traditional Western donors to find “new friends” in China and Russia.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :