CSOs trade barbs with MPs in Rumphi
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) network in Rumphi have accused members of parliament in the district of being insensitive to the welfare of their constituents and have asked the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to engage them for a change.
The CSOs under the banner Rumphi Civil Society Network (RCSN) said Rumphi MPs do not consult the electorate before going to Parliament and shun district council meetings.
They also said they have no feelings about the suffering of the people in the district citing their lack of interest to help in the food crisis at the Rumphi District Hospital.
The CSOs said this during a meeting with Presidential Adviser on Non Governmental Organisations, Mabvuto Bamusi this week.
There are four constituencies in Rumphi whose MPs are Jappie Mhango for Rumphi North who is also Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education; Kamlepo Kalua for Rumphi East; Enock Chihana for Rumphi Central, and Jacqueline Kouwenhoven for Rumphi West.
“We do not know Rumphi MPs. They do not know the problems here. They go to Parliament without consulting the people. We were told that they would be coming to solve our problems but they have not. Who are they representing in parliament?” questioned Jane Lungu Naija, a member of the network who is also a Primary Justice Officer.
The network chairperson, Eunice Banda, said since the District Health Officer raised alarm about the crisis at the hospital, only Kouwenhoven has attended the meetings.
“After the marching to force government to intervene in food crisis at the hospital, our second activity is to meet chiefs, business people and MPs but the MPs always let us down. It is only Jacqueline that comes,” said Banda.
But the MPs hit back at the CSOs describing them as strangers in the district and also failing in their duties to help Rumphi people.
Mhango said he was surprised with the accusations.
“I am surprised with accusations levelled against me particularly and I wonder whether indeed these so called CSOs visit constituencies to interact with the people. I for one always consult before going to parliament because that is what I agreed with my constituents,” said Mhango.
He said the food crisis at the hospital is a concern for everybody.
“I, therefore, wonder what the CSOs themselves have done to assist the patients at the hospital apart from delivering a petition to the DC. I thought their role is to complement Government efforts by mobilising resources to fill gaps in the system,” said Mhango.
On her part, Kouwenhoven said it would be unfortunate to compare her to the other three MPs because she was exceptional.
“I am sure the people who said that are not from Rumphi West. I attend council meetings. I try to assist at the hospital and I often meet with my constituents,” she said.
Kalua also disagreed with the CSOs. He said he always fights for development projects for people in the North while in Parliament and that he consults his constituents before attending parliament sessions.
He, however, said he cannot abandon Parliament or other international engagements for a district council meeting.
“I have on many occasions asked the authorities in Parliament to help Rumphi district when it comes to national development. After parliament, I live in the constituency. I attend council meetings, Jappie attends, Chihana attends, Jacqueline attends but we cannot forgo national events,” said Kalua.
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