A schoolgirl stands next to a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat, India. Picture: REUTERS
A schoolgirl stands next to a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat, India. Picture: REUTERS

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition opposing a planned statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, saying the Indian independence hero had done nothing for the country.

Work on the statue began two months ago along a road named after Gandhi.

The Malawi government said it is being erected as part of a deal that will see New Delhi construct a $10m convention centre in Blantyre.

"Gandhi has never contributed anything to Malawi’s struggle for independence and freedom," a statement from the Gandhi Must Fall group said.

"We therefore feel that the statue is being forced upon the people of Malawi and is the work of a foreign power aiming at promoting its image and dominion on the unsuspecting people of Malawi."

The petitioners claim that Gandhi, who early in his career practiced in SA and fought against apartheid-era segregation laws, was racist.

"We are not comfortable with imperialistic and neocolonial ideologies that seek to impose ... foreign influence which deprives us of honour," Wonderful Mkutche, a member of the group, said on Saturday.

But Isaac Munlo, principal secretary in the foreign ministry, said: "It should be recognised that he promoted values of simplicity and uplifting of social wellbeing of people."

AFP

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