While on assignment to the UK-Africa Summit, Local Government and Rural Development Minister Ben Phiri took time to go on a begging spree for firefighting equipment that is said to have been successful.
The minister, in the company of Principal Secretary Charles Kalemba, met Leicester Deputy Mayor Deepak Bajaj who was joined by Malawian born Councillor Hanif Aqbany to echo their plea.
The ministers office has confirmed that Bajaj, Aqbany and a Malawian born businessman Farouk Al Mahomed and Leicester City have pledged to provide the equipment being sought.
“It is true. The stakeholders we have met have pledged to help secure fire engines, ambulances and engage in rural empowerment programmes. They have assured they will initiate the search process as soon as possible,” said Taonga Botolo, the minister’s spokesperson.
The Local Government minister was on assignment in the UK with President Peter Mutharika, wooing investors to come to Malawi.
He is said to have engaged various city councils and firms to source fire engines and support to local councils in Malawi.
“Leicester is full of Malawians who cherish their heritage. We are glad Honourable Minister that you took time to come and see us and start this conversation. We are ready to support you and we will do our utmost best to roll this special relationship,” said Bajaj during an audience he had with the minister.
In his speech, Phiri said he was committed to developing strong links with a city full of Malawians and hoped that the partnership could benefit the people of Leicester and the yet to be confirmed sister city in Malawi.
“We would love you to come to Malawi and launch this new partnership. Councilor Aqbany grew up in Nkhotakota, we will make sure this relationship benefits his childhood area. The fire engines we need them in every district, the people to people engagements can also extend to such areas,” said Phiri.
The Chairman of Lesta Packaging Plc and Fara Properties Alimahomed and owner of Chaiiwala chain Salim AliMahomed where they expressed their desire to support Malawi government’s rural empowerment programmes.
“President Mutharika sent me here to assure you that we will work with you in your charity programmes in Malawi. But we want you to focus on empowerment of the communities, from skills, low scale irrigation to livestock management, all that would make a difference especially to child and women headed homes,” the Minister told them.
Al Mahomed whose family runs free schools, clinics and supports families in Mangochi, Zomba and Chintheche and Nkhata Bay, said he was excited to see Government appreciating their work and pledged that they would work together with the Districts and City Councils to help Malawians.
“I am glad Government is here recognizing our work. We are ready to support our homeland. Tell us what we need, we will do it. We will look for fire engines and supply. We have mobile clinics somewhere; we will send some to Malawi. Everything you have requested, God has blessed us, we will be happy to share it with Malawians,” said Salim, who adds the family’s charity group will be in Malawi later in the year.
The Minister said government would like to attract Malawians in diaspora to invest and help the country, asking the Alimahomed family to mobilise businesses to invest in agro processing for exports and marketing of Malawian products in their shops.
The families charity so far supports over 5000 children, 100 hectres in subsidy land and produce, 300 000 tree planting programme and frequently donates to the needy across Malawi.