As President Peter Mutharika continues hailing his signature programme of community colleges, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has condemned the turning of Medi at Mponela in Dowa into a technical college.
Mutharika earlier this year, amid pomp and fanfare, opened the new Mponela Technical College but a visit to the institution by Nation on Sunday found that no new structure has been built at the place. Instead, the new administration has taken over almost the whole infrastructure that housed the Malawi Enterprise Development Institute (Medi), which first president Dr Kamuzu Banda established to train small and medium entrepreneurs.
MCP administrative secretary Potiphar Chidaya said Mutharika’s administration is setting a wrong precedence by turning down the Medi vision to accommodate its programme.
“If Kamuzu decided just to use the infrastructure constructed by the colonial government, we could not have had any infrastructure today. We wonder what is behind such thinking. We will not be surprised if one day we hear that Kamuzu Institute for Sports has been turned into a university. We welcome new initiatives but we are saying, construct new infrastructure,” said Chidaya.
Most of Medi’s former buildings have merely being repainted with the unpainted ones looking archaic under the strain of years of rainfall, technical college staff tells Nation on Sunday.
“It is not the message the country is being told. The college has taken over the Medi infrastructure,” says one employee, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It is two institutions in one place—the old-looking buildings belong to Medi and the community college,” points another employee, also seeking anonymity.
The college’s principal, Osman Matola in a phone interview said the college has no immediate plans to find its own new home.
He said while there is no lease agreement between Medi and the college, the APM initiative with 1 000 students, is likely to remain there for the foreseeable future.
“We agreed to use part of the buildings and we have already started lessons,” said Matola.
Minister of Labour and Youth Development Henry Mussa said his ministry and the Ministry of Trade and Industry which owns Medi are still discussing the future of the two institutions.
But Mussa confirmed that there are no current plans to construct a new college and said government was also considering turning the facility into a training institution for community college teachers.
“Rome was not built in a day; we had to start from somewhere. When we have resources available we will build colleges, but in situations where we can use available resources, we will use them. Facilities we are using were idle and I am sure we have given the centre a purpose, instead of just waiting for funds to construct a new technical college,” said Mussa.
Mutharika, through his signature community college ambition, seeks to open a technical college in each district to empower youths with vocational and entrepreneurial skills as one way of ending poverty and bringing sustainable development in the country. n