Minister delays Blantyre city light up

Blantyre City Council (BCC) Thursday postponed at the eleventh hour the annual city lighting up ceremony in order to please Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Henry Mussa.

The council played second fiddle to Lilongwe City Council (LCC) which managed to meet the schedule as the capital took Christmas mood closer to the residents on the same day with the lights that decorate the city centre and surrounding suburbs during the festive period.

During the previous years, Christmas and New Year lights switching ceremony was always conducted on 20th December but this year the Councils had planned to have the event on 22nd December.

Mussa: Delayed the Blantyre Christmas lights switch-on

However, on Thursday Mussa asked BCC to postpone the function further because he could not make it to preside over the ceremony.

BCC Chief Executive Officer Ted Nandolo is staunch supporter of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Switch-on

Nyasa Times recalls that in the past, the event was being graced by the city fathers (mayors) and after switching on the lights, invited guests and members of staff were being treated to a reception with unlimited drinks and snacks which were being sourced from the corporate world by the councilors.

Invited guests and members of staff were informed of the change an hour before starting time forcing the organizers to panic because everything had been arranged already and were only waiting for Mussa.

“The message that the minister will not be available came at around 16:50hours when everything was already set,” said a source in the Engineering Department who are the main players in the exercise.

The function was pushed to Friday evening, December 23, and Mussa presided over it.

After the postponement, the council was forced to give guests all the snacks to take home because it could not manage to store them for next day.

“It is really sad that the council is struggling with finances but it can afford to pay thousands of Kwachas to an outsourced catering service only to allow people take the snacks meant for a function home,” complained the source.

On Friday, the council was forced to prepare another budget to pay the catering service for the snacks which were used during the ceremony.

“This is very unfair to the employees because the council has failed to give them bonuses because it claims its financial status is in bad shape,” he added.

Scaled down

Every year, the council fixes decoration lights in several strategic sites like roundabouts, city boundaries, Old Town Hall and the Civic Center.

But this year, the decorations have greatly been scaled down due to what the council claims lack of financial muscle.

Nyasa Times observation indicates that Blantyre City main street Victoria Avenue, city boundaries along the Thyolo, Midima, Zalewa, Zomba and Chileka roads have this year not been decorated.

At the close of business on Friday, only Civic Centre, Sanjika Road, Independence Arc, Old Town Hall and Clock Tower, Shoprite and Midima Court roundabouts were the only places that had been decorated.

The decoration lights are supposed to hang up to the end of the festive period but this year the lights are expected to be removed after two weeks when employees return from their holiday which President Bingu wa Mutharika offered them.

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