Members of Parliament seek storm recovery plan
As Lazarus Chakwera dates Parliament today
By Cathy Maulidi:
President Lazarus Chakwera is today expected to appear before Parliament to make a statement on Tropical Cyclone Freddy and take questions from members of Parliament (MPs).
Chakwera is expected to be in Parliament from 2pm.
He is appearing before Parliament after touring affected districts in the Southern Region, where the cyclone has claimed over 500 lives, with over 349 people still missing.
At the moment, there are no prepared questions from MPs to the President since, this time around, he is going to the House to make a statement on a disaster.
But a number of MPs have told The Daily Times that they plan to ask the President about plans the government has put in place to recover from the cyclone.
Member of Parliament for Mwanza West Joyce Chitsulo, who is also the Chairperson for the Public Appointments Committee, said Tuesday that, if recognised to ask a question, she would want the President to address the issue of recovery measures the government has put in place.
“I would want the President to outline his recovery plan, including what he plans to do with those that have lost property and houses as well as those displaced from places like Bokosi in Phalombe District,” Chitsulo said.
On his part, Chitipa South Member of Parliament Werani Chilenga, who is also Chairperson for the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament, said, if recognised to ask a question, he intends to ask the President about the government’s plans on the proposal to have a budget specifically for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma).
“The Natural Resources Committee has always spoken on this; we need a budget specifically for Dodma instead of allocating funds to it through the Unforeseen Expenditure vote. So this is why we are advocating for the Disaster Bill,” Chilenga said.
Mangochi South West lawmaker Shadric Namalomba is expecting the President to shed light on the issue of disaster preparedness plans and why the country failed to prepare well for Tropical Cyclone Freddy despite getting warnings 30 days before.
On his part, Zomba Ntonya legislator Ned Poya said he intends to hear from the President on what plans the government has on damaged infrastructure.
“With the damage done to infrastructure, are we going to continue with new developments or will, first, go back to infrastructure that has been damaged because, for me, it doesn’t make sense for us to be moving forward with new infrastructure development projects disregarding infrastructure that has been damaged. We should work on damaged infrastructure first,” Poya said.
Weighing in, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa has asked the President to give MPs more than the customary one-hour-30-minutes for questions.
Meanwhile, and without delving into the issue of whether the President will tally in the august House for much longer than customary, Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda said “he is the President of the people”.