President Lazarus Chakwera has rued the conduct of some public officers who ‘milked’ entrepreneur and philanthropist Napoleon Dzombe K500 million, forcing the investor to abandon a multi-billion kwacha international bus terminal project in Lilongwe.
Speaking in Dowa on Monday when he presided over the opening of Kalipano Hotel which Dzombe constructed as an alternative investment after abandoning the bus terminal project, the President said the conduct displayed by the involved officials is counter-productive to attracting investment.
Said Chakwera: “I am disappointed that such things are happening in this age. Instead of supporting people who are willing to bring development, we are busy letting them down and driving them away. This is greed.”
He said government officials are paid to render services to people, as such, it is uncalled for to demand extra money to provide the services to the very people they are supposed to serve.
In an interview after the launch, Dzombe said as a Malawian who loves his country, he cannot deny the people the development they need. He said he will still consider the bus terminal project.
“The President’s remarks have given me hope and what I will do is to look for funds and then see if I can revive the bus terminal and other projects,” he said.
Dzombe, founder of Mtalimanja Holdings Limited, said he hatched the dream of the hotel from his numerous international travels where he saw and learnt the tactics of setting up huge investments in places where people do not expect.
“Malawi has very huge investment opportunities due to its position and resources, but I was moved to see how our friends are able to set up investments in difficult places such as deserts. I said it’s possible to do the same at home,” he said.
Kalipano Hotel is being managed by listed local hospitality group Sunbird Tourism plc whose board chairperson Vilipo Munthali said the unit is the 10th on the franchise’s chain of hotels and resorts.
He described the management contract between Mtalimanja Holdings and Sunbird Tourism as a win-win partnership, saying the owner will benefit from the experience and expertise of Sunbird in the provision of services in the tourism and hospitality industry. On the other hand, he said Sunbird will also gain from the hotel and its other facilities by diversifying its service offering.
“This hotel is strategically placed and it has a very beautiful surrounding and other services which will be of an advantage to us. At the same time, Sunbird is a big brand in the tourism sector, so it’s a good combination,” said Munthali.
The hotel, whose total investment is K5 billion, currently has 54 functional rooms comprising 48 deluxe rooms and six suites, in addition to three meeting rooms. There are also 72 other rooms under construction and projected to be ready by December.
Tourism attractions at the hotel include the famous Kalipano Dam aka Lake Dzombe which allows for water sports, experiential fishing and agri-excursions. There is also an outdoor events garden and floating restaurants.
The hotel is also strategically positioned to enjoy nearby attractions such as Kasungu National Park and Ntchisi Hills within a radius of 100 kilometres and the Chingalire Cultural Village for visitors to have a range of fun they need.
Dzombe said there are plans to set up a golf course, an air strip, international convention centre and modern housing units.
In her remarks, Minister of Tourism Vera Kamtukule said the magnificence of the hotel is in line with the tourism sector master plan which focuses on quality infrastructure and promotion of indigenous products.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima, Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara, former president Joyce Banda and her husband retired chief justice Richard Banda were among the dignitaries in attendance at the opening ceremony.
Kalipano Hotel by Sunbird is located 86 kilometres from Lilongwe City and a distance of 17km off the Lilongwe-Kasungu M1. n