Leader of Opposition, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Monday ripped apart the State of the Nation Address (Sona) which President Lazarus Chakwera delivered in Parliament on Friday, saying it failed to meet the expectations of Malawians.
Nankhumwa—who was the first Parliament member to respond to the Sona in line with the august House’s regulations— charged that Malawians expected a comprehensive articulation of a roadmap on how the government would implement its vision which has been heavily propagated in the past months.
According to Nankhumwa, what Malawians got was merely a blank page where substance was relegated to the backseat.
He said what the President delivered in this august House was not a true reflection of state of the nation.
“A true state of the nation today is as follows: millions of Malawians are facing hunger. They can’t afford three meals a day. A bag of fertiliser is still at K23,000 and all maize, tobacco, tea, coffee farmers are waiting for the day this government shall fulfil its promise of K4,995 universal fertiliser subsidy.
“Millions of our youths remain jobless despite being promised immediate one million jobs. A passport is still at K80,000 after we were promised a total reduction to K14,000. Malawians are still paying for water and electricity connection.
“Malawi has not yet reached a point of equal opportunities for everyone. It is a Malawi for a selected few. Even some Tonse Alliance members have already started raising the red flag that Tonse Alliance is slowly degenerating into a Ndekha Alliance,” Nankhumwa said.
He added that Chakwera did not do any justice to Malawians by pledging to construct official houses for Members of Parliament (MPs) especially considering that MPs are wealthier than many civil servants.
On the other hand, the Leader of Opposition applauded the government for setting ambitious targets in maternal and child health such as 350 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2022 and the Sustainable Development Goal target of 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.
“However, the statement fell short of outlining an action plan or the building blocks of how these targets will be achieved. Madam Speaker, it is now an open secret that Covid-19 has substantially disrupted the health care space and exposed our inadequacies.
“By merely saying my administration is in the process of recruiting 1,600 Health Surveillance Assistants; constructing 900 Health Posts and accommodation for staff in hard-to-reach areas by 2022, the Sona fell short in terms of outlining comprehensive measures, including funding profiles to equipping major referral hospitals with equipment and drugs to prevent such infectious diseases from devastating our health care system again in future,” Nankhumwa said.
He added that Chakwera also missed an opportunity to authoritatively outline how the education system would be revamped and improved in line with the Tonse Alliance manifesto.
“For example, the speech was empty on the strategy the government will implement to enrol the targeted 400,000 learners in adult literacy classes when official reports show that the country can only enrol 150,000 learners in the 10,000 literacy centres across the country,” Nankhumwa said.
But speaking earlier, State House Director of Communications, Sean Kampondeni, said the fact that some areas were not explained in detail in the Sona does not mean that the President does not consider them as a priority.
Kampondeni said some of the areas will be addressed when Finance Minister Felix Mlusu presents the National Budget on Friday.
Speaking at the start of yesterday’s meeting, Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara, said her office is discussing with the Office of the President to extend the current meeting from five to seven weeks.
Hara added that Parliament is expected to discuss the confirmation of the new Inspector General of Police, George Kainja on Wednesday.