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Government succumbs to MPs pressure

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The Government has agreed to distribute K3.4 billion rural project funds to all constituencies following pressure from opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) who accused it of flouting procedures in acquiring the resources.

The government’s underhand tactics came to light following revelations by our sister paper, Malawi News, of February 24 to March 2 2018, which reported that the government had allocated K40 million each to 86 MPs, most of whom voted against the Electoral Reforms Bills.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Esther Mcheka Chilenje, Tuesday was forced to suspend deliberations after the House had just reconvened in the morning, when the MPs pressed Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe, to explain how the 86 MPs were selected to benefit from the fund.

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The MPs, including lawmaker for Lilongwe Mapuyu South Joseph Njobvuyalema and People’s Party leader in the chamber Raphael Mhone, demanded that the matter be disposed of before attending to the business of the day.

“We must follow the procedures of the House. We were told that where we are not clear following the minister’s statement, we would be given a chance to ask the minister. Because of time, we agreed that we should do that this morning,” Mhone said.

Dowa East MP, Richard Chimwendo Banda, and Ntchisi North legislator, Boniface Kadzamira, shot down Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa’s proposal to postpone the discussion and proceed to committee of supply stage while concerned parties meet to discuss and furnish the House with a report on the matter.

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“This is a serious matter, we cannot allow that injustice. That K3.4 billion which has been [dished out] to other MPs without following procedures is a serious crime. We cannot allow discussion of this budget without discussing this injustice,” Chimwendo Banda said.

When the House resumed business, Nankhumwa reported that the consultative meeting, which included representatives of political parties, had resolved to distribute the resources equally.

“The money is just here in the budget as presented for the Members of Parliament to approve or disapprove. When we agreed on that, we said, in as far as this is issue is concerned, let us get back to the drawing board and try to distribute the money equally to each constituency,” he said

The development means that, instead of getting K40 million, each constituency will receive K20.7 million

Nankhumwa further said clarification on the matter will be made when technical authorities from the two ministries meet on the matter. He dismissed assertions that the funds have already been distributed to the 86 MPs and said approval of the funds will be tackled under the vote of the ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

However, Malawi Congress Party Whip, Lobin Lowe, asked the Ministry to allocate the funds to district councils.

The House has since approved K13.6 billion allocation to the ministry. The amount has been raised from K11.4 billion.

This was one of 16 votes the MPs passed before lunch break. Other allocations they passed included K6.5 billion allocation to State Residences, National Assembly (K13.5 billion), Office of the President and Cabinet (K5.5 billion), and Judiciary (K9.2 billion).

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