Minister ‘abandons’ city council event

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Henry Mussa last Friday surprised guests to the commissioning of Christmas and New Year decoration lights by Blantyre City Council (BCC) when he vanished into thin air seconds after power went off.

The development came just a day after the minister cancelled the same ceremony at the eleventh hour after realizing that he could not make it to preside over the programme.

And on Friday, just 40 minutes into the programme the entire campus of Blantyre Civic Centre offices was engulfed in darkness due to what was later discovered to be rationing programme of the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM).

Mussa: Ducked

Immediately after power went off, Mussa was seen dashing to his vehicle abandoning the function.

After the minister drove off the BCC Chief Executive Ted Nandolo, his directors and two Members of Parliament from within who were present (Felix Njawala and Mezalumo) also rushed to their respective vehicles and followed suit.

An officer from the administration section at BCC told Nyasa Times later, the minister had to be whisked away on security grounds.

The officer said the City Council  does not have any alternative power supply (generator) hence the minister had no choice but to abandon the ceremony for his safety leaving the guests with gloomy faces.

The minister’s action also angered some journalists who were present at the function and wanted to interview him and the Council’s Chief Executive Officer Ted Nandolo.

Mussa and Nandolo were forced to arrange for a special interview with the press on Saturday morning.

However, the solace was that by the time power went off he had just finished making his speech.

“It could have been a disaster if the lights went off before his speech,” observed one staff member.

Shortsighted

Some members of staff have since blamed organisers of the event for being shortsighted in their arrangements.

“They know the country’s problem with electricity and our ESCOM, how can you organise an event without a standby generator?” queried one employee.

Reports also indicate that the organizing team did not even notify ESCOM about the event otherwise the utility company would have done something to their rationing programme after knowing that the minister was presiding over such an important ceremony.

But Nyasa Times investigations also revealed that the BCC management team left the place unceremoniously for fear of their lives after some members of staff threatened to deal with them over unfulfilled salary increment and Christmas bonuses’ promises.

“Employees are angry with the management because of salary increment issue which was promised to be with effective from July this year but there is nothing to date. As for the bonus issue, it was the chief executive himself who made the promise but Xmas has gone without anything,” said the source.

After Civic Centre came back to light, guests queued up for drinks and snacks, which also had its own drama as people hassled to reach the disposable plates which were not enough.

Participants queued in two lines which people jokingly said ‘mzere wa magalimoto’ (for those with the plates) and wazigubu (for those using serviettes) to get the snacks.

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