The august House currently sitting in Lilongwe
* And objectively deliberate as presented today by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Simplex Chithyola Banda
* MPs are very much concerned with pleasing their political party masters at the expense of poor Malawians
* Events of last week have revealed the deep-rooted divisions between the two sides of the house and within the opposition
By Duncan Mlanjira
The Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), through the Church & Society desk, is appealing to Members of Parliament on both sides of the August House currently meeting in Lilongwe for the mid-year budget review meeting “to rise above partisan politics and objectively deliberate as presented on Monday, by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Simplex Chithyola Banda.
In its statement, released by the Church & Society Executive Director, Rev Master Jumbe, says they have “noted with concern and regret that the MPs are very much concerned with pleasing their political party masters at the expense of poor Malawians whom they are supposed to represent in the August House”.
“Events of last week, Thursday, 16th November, have revealed the deep-rooted divisions between the two sides of the house and within the opposition, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP),” said the statement.
“Last Saturday was the day when the Leader of Opposition, Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa was supposed to move a motion which was meant to invite the State President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera to appear before the house and answer questions from Parliamentarians on the current state of affairs in Malawi.
“Unfortunately, the motion was defeated. Our fear and concern is that if this spirit continues, the current sitting of Parliament will be a waste of the little tax-payers resources.
“While we applaud the State President and the Minister of Finance for outlining austerity measures meant to cushion poor Malawians against the impact of the 44% devaluation of the kwacha, we feel Malawians are entitled to ask questions through their honourable representatives in the august House irrespective of their political leaning.”
Thus the Church & Society contends that Malawians:
* would like to get assurance from the President on how the so-called austerity measures would be adhered to this time around since similar measures were never followed in the past;
* that Malawians would like to know if the so-called austerity measures are enough to bring the needed change in the lives of poor Malawians who are feeling the ‘heat’ now; and that
* Malawians would like to know why the President does not heed to the calls for him to reduce his cabinet to a maximum of 15 members and 5 personal assistances.
“We, therefore, believe that time for petty politics and blame game between government and the opposition is not now,” continues the statement. “Both sides of the House have to unite within the confines of the National Assembly and work out policy measures that would reverse the current status quo.
The statement highlighted some critical issues in that as the legislators will be commenting on the mid-year budget review, they should reflect on two critical areas “which are derailing progress despite government’s continued assurances for positive change”.
These include enforcement of strict fiscal discipline, saying: “It is on record that 30% of Malawians budgetary allocations is wasted through corruption.
“We have, therefore noted with dismay that despite persistent calls for fiscal discipline from a diverse spectrum of the society towards the Executive, these calls have not been heeded to.
“There have been flowery speeches from the State President before on government’s resolve to instill fiscal discipline and end corruption, but sadly, these speeches have not been backed by action.
“It is against this backdrop that we implore our legislators to critically devise policies that could help instill fiscal discipline in the Executive arm of government so that we can ably save the little resources to be gotten through the much-touted IMF Extended Credit Facility.”
The Church & Society also observed that there is a looming hunger situation being forested, saying it is dire and as MPs, “regardless of which side of the House they sit on, they can’t afford the luxury of playing partisan politics”.
“Despite the President’s assurance that no person will die of hunger, the situation on the ground points to the other direction as people continue to eat wild fruits.
“The Affordable Input Program (AIP) continues to be a political bait meant to blindfold Malawians,” said the statement, while appealing to the legislators to demand from President Chakwera;
* to reduction in the size of the cabinet to a maximum of 15 members;
* Reduction in the number of Presidential advisors to a maximum of 5;
* Replacement of luxurious and much-fuel consumption cars used by Cabinet Ministers and top government officials with moderate ones.
In its conclusion, Church & Society says it “firmly believe that Members of Parliament have a noble role and calling to represent the interests of the voiceless, the down-trodden and those being shouted down”.
“They can, therefore, not choose to renegade on this role due to political party affiliations. Personal and political interests can wait, but interests of the common man have to be given first priority.”