Domestic football powerhouses—Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers—say President Peter Mutharika’s triumph in the presidential election gives them hope that government will implement their stadium projects.
Mutharika pledged during pre-season campaign to construct stadiums for the two teams, but there were doubts from some quarters on whether the project would see the light of day in the event that he is not re-elected.
The People’s Team director responsible for administration Albert Chigoga on Thursday said: “His [Mutharika] re-election gives us hope because he was the one who made the directive.
“So, the solace comes in the sense that it is the same government and they will continue from where they stopped.”
On his part, Nomads chairperson Gift Mkandawire said: “The winning of APM is definitely an added advantage so that the project he initiated could carry on.
“Nevertheless, in the event that he did not win, we would have still pursued it since it is now a government issue, but being a continuation becomes easy to understand each other.”
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said the two clubs have every reason to breathe a sigh of relief “because it is not automatic that had another government been voted into office, it would have implemented the project”.
He said: “It is an advantage in the sense that every government comes with its policies. So, Mutharika’s victory gives them hope that the project will see the light of day.”
Government, through the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development on April 11 received sites from Blantyre City Council where government plans to build stadia for the two clubs.
Bullets were allocated 6.3 hectares near Moneymen Growth Centre along Chikwawa Road while Wanderers opted for 5.47 hectares near Kanjedza Forest in Limbe West opposite Blantyre Teachers College.
The then sports minister Grace Chiumia said the land handover demonstrated government’s commitment to fulfil the promise to build the stadiums.
“When the President made the pledge [in January], some thought it was just politics. But he was serious,” she said.
However, the then Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Rhino Chiphiko and some social commentators faulted the President’s move to commit taxpayers funds to implement a project for privately owned institutions.
“I am shocked to learn about this. These clubs are in the process of commercialisation and, additionally, they are private institutions. I think [the President] is just using the projects as a campaign gimmick,” he said.
Other commentators pointed out that the Malawi national netball team, the Queens, have been shining on the global scene, but have no tangible infrastructure befitting them domestically and yet they have been crying loudly for a modern indoor court.
Last month, the ministry said the project would start with production of designs.
The ministry’s spokesperson Christina Mkutumula said: “There is a team of officials, including the two teams, that has been mandated to develop the designs of the stadiums. As soon as the designs are ready, the project will be tendered to identify a contractor.
“It is at that point when time to start the project will be known as agreed between the contractors and government. That’s the normal process.”