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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Communities have the right to development

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Members of the country’s Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology were in Traditional Authority Chitukula in Lilongwe over the weekend where they challenged communities to demand a share of the national budget.

The parliamentarians were addressing a public hearing in the area and told the community there that the country needs proactive community members to effectively follow up on government’s promises.

We cannot agree more. The parliamentarians have said it the way it is supposed to be. Malawians must do away with passive citizenship. They must adopt active citizenship and claim what belongs to them.

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The tendency by most Malawians to just stand aside and look as their rights are being violated is what has contributed to the slow pace of development in the country.

People tend to believe that it is a big favour when government implements a development project in their area. Little do they know that development is a right for all under the country’s Constitution.

The Republican Constitution confers that right on every citizen and empowers anyone to drag government to court should they feel that they are being deprived of development.

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What the parliamentarians did was to open the eyes of Malawians that government has no right to spend their hard-earned money the way it wants.

When a budget is passed by the lawmakers, it becomes law in itself and government must implement it according to what was agreed in the House.

But we have a government that simply wakes up and decides that it can change what was passed by the House and use the financial resources anyhow.

A case in point is government’s decision to transfer resources from the Malawi Electoral Commission vote to cater for flood victims without seeking permission from the House. This resulted in the commission’s failure to conduct by-elections in several constituencies and wards across the country.

This must stop and stop now. Malawians must stand up and tell this government that they deserve a share of the national budget because they belong to this country and they pay tax.

This government should learn to give Malawians what Parliament has passed. We should never allow anyone to take us for a ride.

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