The Chinese government will construct a secondary school in Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika’s southern tea-growing home district of Thyolo with US$ 200 million.
Mutharika’s younger brother, Education Minister Arthur Peter Mutharika, who is also parliamentarian for the constituency, led the ground-breaking ceremony for the project.
“I’m so glad this government is making sure that Malawian youth not only get access to quality education but also relevant education,” he said.
The younger Mutharika, who a section of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wants to succeed his elder brother when he retires in 2014, said the Matapata Secondary School project, apart from bringing quality education to the district, would offer employment to locals.
Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the project alongside the new Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Pan Hejun, who promised more development for Malawi.
“As a sincere friend and key economic partner of Malawi, China is keen to bringing more investments in Malawi,” Hejun said.
He praised President Mutharika for cutting ties with Beijing nemesis Taipei that the latter still recognises as its break-away province.
Since Malawi severed 42-year-old ties with the Taiwan in 2008, Beijing has moved quickly to construct huge infrastructural projects.
A state-of-the-art multi-million dollar purpose-built Parliament building is up and running in the capital, Lilongwe.
The Chinese are also constructing a five-star hotel and conference centre and a sports stadium, all in Lilongwe.
The Chinese were also supposed to build a new Malawi University of Science and Technology in Lilongwe but Mutharika controversially moved the project to his home district of Thyolo.
Economic watchers, however, said while the massive Chinese infrastructural development projects should be applauded, the price Malawi will pay in the long run will be huge.
For example, lots of small- and medium-scale Chinese entrepreneurs are flocking into Malawi in their hundreds, bringing in cheap Chinese stuff and engaging in small-scale businesses, thereby pushing away Malawian investors who cannot compete.
Also at most of the construction sites, Malawians are getting peripheral jobs, for the bulk of the jobs are done by hundreds of Chinese prisoners.
Added to that, like has been experienced in Zambian mines, the Chinese have the tendency of paying peanuts to their indigenous workers