ColumnsHitting The Nail

Hitting the nail: Are DPP MPs out of their minds?


Thanks to Times Radio, I was able to follow in my office the proceedings of Parliament live on the fateful Tuesday afternoon this week as Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe wielded down his chopping axe on allocations to various ministries and departments.

It is common knowledge that the economy has been in a comatose for several months now and government cannot just balance its books.

It was, therefore, expected that, instead of increasing the budget during the current parliamentary budget review, Gondwe would actually be cutting it and he readied us all two weeks ago when he said the figures would be coming down to K908 billion from K930 billion.


But the devil is always in the detail and what we did not expect is how these cuts would be decided.

To say it has been a shocker would be an understatement.

Of all votes, for example, how could Gondwe justify the merciless and senseless cutting of the Education budget by over K500 million.


And then the 80 DPP MPs that voted for the cuts had the audacity of standing up in unison and sing songs of victory after they won the roll call vote to cut the Education vote.

Can anybody, let alone an MP, dance in celebration after cutting the Education budget on the premise that the ministry had no plans to spend the money?

If there is a ministry that should have robust plans and be in need of all the money in the world, should it not be the Ministry of Education?

This is a ministry that cannot employ the 9,000 teachers it trained because it claims it has no money. This is a ministry that cannot pay teachers’ leave grants that are a pittance and it blames this failure on funding.

This is a ministry that allows children of poor people to learn under trees in this day and age when their counterparts somewhere in this very same country are playing with iPads right in classrooms.

Yet the Ministry says it has no plans to do anything about the above and it does not need more money from the budget.

On the other hand, Gondwe has increased the budget to the State House because the Peter Mutharika administration has plans to build banqueting halls to be used to wine and dine and facilitate the creaking of glasses and smoking of Cuban cigars.

All this is happening as poor Malawians are dying of hunger and disease and their children are learning under trees.

Other votes that benefitted from colossal increase as Education is suffering cuts are Ministry of Foreign Affairs—I suppose to facilitate the globe-trotting of its Minister George Chaponda and pay for the obscene opulence of embassy staff worldwide—and Ministry of Lands.

For the Ministry of Lands, it is to pay for the senseless Malata subsidy which we all know owes suppliers heavy sums of money that they are now refusing to supply any more materials.

The tragedy is that while opposition MPs, and of special mention should be Juliana Lunguzi and Kamlepo Kalua, tried to stop this madness, DPP parliamentarians were silent during the debate.

But when it came to voting, they simply rubber-stamped the cuts in education and rise in State House vote so that money is available to fund the State House new-found hobby of building banqueting halls to facilitate the high life of wining and dining.

As if to laugh at dismayed Malawians, the DPP MPs rose to celebrate the victory, I repeat. I am sure in the evening of that day, some of them even went for rounds of drinks at some trendy pub in Lilongwe and share Cuban cigars to make merry and celebrate the cuts that would affect the children of poor people at Ministry of Education.

You and I know this is complete recklessness and total abuse of tax payers’ money by the clueless DPP government.

I will end the same way I begun: Are they out of their minds? It is possible they need help. Otherwise, this is unbelievable. It is as if it is a surreal dream.

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