Hunger dominates budget responses


Members of Parliament (MPs) Friday wound up debate on the mid-year budget review statement, which was delivered by Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, with most arguments centering on government’s failure to decisively deal with the current hunger situation.

Despite Minister of Agriculture, Allan Chiyembekeza, recently insisting there is enough maize in the country, almost all MPs who spoke on the food situation—from both the opposition and government sides—claimed Admarc selling points were empty.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MP for Zomba Chisi, Mark Botomani, said in his maiden speech that the whole of Traditional Authorities (T/As) Mwambo and Mkumbira in the district are in dire need of food.


Botomani, who won the parliamentary by-elections in the constituency following the death of Peter Mangulenje, asked the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure maize is made available for the people in the affected areas.

MP for Dedza West, Phillip Chinkhondo, also challenged government to do more on the current hunger situation which he argued could result into a social and moral crisis in the most affected parts.

“For instance, in Dedza, people are going to Mozambique looking for food. We are also encountering a lot of school dropout cases and absenteeism simply because our children do not have food,” Chinkhondo said.


He further challenged government to sincerely invest in irrigation which would avert future food crises if properly managed.

His concerns were shared by other members including MP for Ntchisi North, Olipa Chimangeni who argued that in some parts of the district, from November last year up to now, there hasn’t been any maize in Admarc depots.

Meanwhile, some MPs have faulted Gondwe for cutting allocations to Defence, Labour and Sports ministries while increasing money for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others.

According to the MPs, the Ministry of Labour is championing important developments such as the community technical colleges which need more funding since they focus on young people who are the majority in this country.

Mzimba North MP, Agnes Nyalonje said, “spare K1 billion from (the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) to invest in Community Technical Colleges to give these colleges a chance to grow into proper institutions of quality technical education that can feed our critical industries.

“Reverse the K3.35 billion cut to public universities by cancelling the increased allocations to Foreign Affairs so that public universities can sustain efforts towards quality education against an already difficult environment of high inflation and steep depreciation of the kwacha.”

Nyalonje also asked Gondwe to cancel the increased funding to State Residencies and allocate the money towards programmed early childhood development in rural areas.

She described Gondwe’s revised budget as yet another lost opportunity to turn the situation around.

Most opposition MPs who have contributed to the debate on Gondwe’s statement from the time he delivered it, have described the revised budget of K906 billion as far much less considering the depreciation of the kwacha.

Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament, Rhino Chiphiko, even reached the point of arguing that in its real value, the budget could be pegged at K500 billion.

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