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Handouts issue haunts legislators

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

CONCERNED—MPs during the orientation

The issue of handouts dominated discussions Tuesday during the second day of members of Parliament (MP) orientation in Lilongwe.

The issue arose after political analyst Henry Chingaipe presented a paper to the MPs, advising them to refrain from giving handouts as it is against the laws.

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Chingaipe was, however, quick to point out that the problem of handouts would take time to be resolved due to political pressure.

“Political handouts are a result of the government’s failure to provide services to its citizens, so members of Parliament have become victims of providing those incentives that could have been by a function of the government,” Chingaipe said.

He said there was need for serious reforms on how the government delivers services to the people through formal channels.

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However, MPs who spoke during the orientation said the culture of handouts was refusing to die and could haunt their political careers.

Nsanje Lalanje MP, Gladys Ganda, said the culture of handouts was deep-rooted so much that failure to give them can cost an MP a seat.

“I wanted to ask if there is a way that people from our constituencies could understand that political handouts such as paying school fees or buying coffins are not the responsibility of members of Parliament. I would like to bring to your attention that this culture is deep-rotted and cannot just stop,” Ganda said.

Karonga Central MP, Cornelius Mwalwanda, said the matter needed concerted efforts from stakeholders to ensure civic education of the electorates.

Some MPs proposed the revision of Constituency Development fund to cater for needy constituents.

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