Changing the Malawian flag in 2010 by the late president Bingu wa Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stung the tax payers a staggering K2.6 billion, Nyasa Times has learnt.
Malawians cried foul over the flag change saying they were not consulted.
But delivering her pledge President Joyce Banda ensured lawmakers voted to restore the national flag of a rising sun.
The flag, manufactured locally and other pieces outsourced from tailoring companies in India, used imported polyester from China forcing treasury to spend sparse foreign currency.
The source said government stationary had to be changed, official budges made, car stickers and other things distributed to embassies, offices and the private sector, all at a huge price.
“It was a big project and everybody in government had to support the change or top government ranking officials would think you are in opposition,” said the source adding the notorious National Intelligence Bureau was sent to people’s offices to spy if they were complying with the change.
The source emphasized that the change was nothing but a ploy by Mutharika to stamp his authority on the country’s political landscape.
“Bingu changed the flag not that it was important, he just wanted to be remembered as someone who changed the flag and that is so imprudent to do for a leader,” he said.
But the source said that the cost of reverting back to the old flag would not be as costly as the changing because the old flags were not all destroyed but kept aside.
“Most people kept the old flag as memorabilia and they will just replace it but there will still be costs incurred especially to government,” stated the source.
“The expenditure will be minimal compared to what was used when Mutharika changed the flag,” he added.
In United Kingdom the flag was sold at about eight pounds (K3200) in sizes of 150 cm x 90 cm with two brass eyelets for hanging.
Malawian flag was used from 1964 until 2010. Black represents African heritage, red the blood of martyrs and green the land. The rising sun represents the dawn of hope and freedom for the whole of Africa.
In the Mutharika flag the stripes were altered to match the original Pan-African flag layout, with the red stripe at the top, the black stripe in middle, and the green stripe at the bottom. The rising sun at the flag’s top was replaced with a full, centred white sun representing the economic progress Malawi has made since becoming independent.
Paradoxically, 2010 was pregnant with the DPP economic mismanagement that climaxed with forex and fuel shortages and the blood of 20 people who were brutally killed during the July 20 mass protests.
“A flag has got a very fundamental significance,” Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
“The flag is part of our association with the independence struggle, the history of the country,” he said.
He condemned Mutharika’s justification for changing the flag, adding that it was “absurd” to say Malawi was a prosperous country.
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