Malawi Government has admitted that the newly constructed five star hotel in Lilongwe will not be ready to offer accommodation during the forthcoming Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) as earlier planned.
The managers of the facility have been under pressure from the Malawi Government to ensure that rooms in the facility are ready to accommodate some of the 2,000 plus guests but Minister of Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume admitted on Thursday that that would be a tall order as only the 15 presidential villas in the Umodzi Park complex will be ready.
The five star President’s Hotel, the Presidential Villas and the Bingu International Conference Centre is part of what is called the Umodzi Park complex a brain child of the late country’s President Bingu wa MuthArika constructed by the Chinese.
Chiume said with such a set back the country will only rely on the Villas to accommodate 13 Heads of State expected at the Summit and various hotels spread in the capital city to accommodate other visiting delegates.
“We still have adequate accommodation,” he said, while insisting that Malawi is ready to host the regional meeting.
Chiume was speaking during the official launch of the summit in Lilongwe where the SADC Executive Secretary Thomaz Salomao gave an outline of the preparations so far as well as the agenda of the summit.
The summit will run from August 10 to 18 with the actual Heads of State meeting held on the last day when Malawi is also expected to come in as new chair of the regional body taking over from Mozambique.
Chiume said government preparatory committee is still working on the budget.
“But when we try to balance it out we feel the benefits that we will accrue to our businesses and other stakeholders in the country are enormous and we can see that we will benefit as a country and be able to set the SADC agenda for next year”
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga disclosed that Malawi will spend about K500 million (US$144 928) towards the hosting of the Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit next month.
Lipenga said in the 2013/2014 national budget, Malawi set aside almost K500 million to meet its various obligations towards the hosting of the summit.
Chiume dispelled fears of possible accommodation shortage during the summit saying Malawi has adequate accommodation to cater for the delegates.
“In terms of accommodation we have adequate accommodation in Lilongwe. As you know we have 14 presidential villas and besides the host Malawi and Madagascar which remains suspended we are only expecting 13 presidents who will be accommodated at these villas.”
The summit will among others, review reports on the status of relations among member states. However missing on the agenda is the Lake Malawi border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania.
In his speech Executive Secretary for SADC Dr. Tomaz Augusto Salamao said SADC is satisfied with the progress the Malawi government has made in preparation for the summit.
The summit is expected to attract over 400 delegates across the region and will be the second time the country is hosting the summit.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :