MPs grill Goodall on proposed MSB sale
Members of Parliament on Tuesday took to task Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe to clarify reports that government planned to complete the sale of Malawi Savings Bank today.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Member of Parliament for Salima North West Jessie Kabwila started the issue as an extension to questions that were directed to the minister.
Kabwila raised the matter when Gondwe was responding to a question on the availability of commercial banks in some districts in the country.
She said there was need for the minister to shed more light on the issue. Kabwila told the House that she had information that the sale of the bank was about to be completed.
She warned that the issue had the potential to derail business in the House.
But Gondwe said he was supposed to address the House on the matter but failed to do so because of a court injunction on the matter.
“I’m aware that I was supposed to address the House on this very pertinent issue but there was an injunction. But I would like to say that almost three quarters is being said without actual facts. I will explain to the House so that we proceed with an understading on the matter,” he said.
Gondwe added: “I would be the first person to know that the sale of the bank is being completed tomorrow (today), but I don’t know.”
Kabwila, however, stood on point of order, seeking an assurance from the minister that the sale would not go ahead until the consultations Gondwe talked about were made.
The minister gave her the assurance.
“It will all depend on what positions you will take after explaining. However, I will explain the facts to the best of my ability. Even you, madam, will change your mind,” he said.
Gondwe’s explanation did not convince another MCP MP, Richard Chimwendo Banda.
“Are you aware that you (government) vacated the injunction that was obtained to stop the sale of the bank? Do you remember that a motion was moved in this House to stop the sale of the bank but you went ahead to vacate the injunction? This means there is something happening,” said the Dowa East MP.
But Gondwe said what is happening is for the good of the country.
“I do know that the injunction was vacated. If indeed what we are doing is not legal, the injunction could not have been vacated. We are leaders. There are some things that we do that a person on the streets can have difficulties in country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the World Food Programme (WFP—which is one of Malawi’s partners in the Cost of Hunger survey—a similar study conducted in Swaziland found that the southern African country lost 3.1 percent of its GDP due to undernutrition.
“The Cost of Hunger in Africa is a 12-country study highlighting how undernutrition is not just a health issue but an economic and social one as well that requires multisectoral commitment and investment,” says a statement from WFP in Malawi.
The study was undertaken by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with partners namely WFP, the African Union Commission (AUC), the New Partnership of Africa’s Development (Nepad) Planning and Coordinating Agency and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Meanwhile, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) has warned that the cost of hunger could be worse this year in the wake of the projected drop in maize yield.
In an interview yesterday, Cisanet National Coordinator, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, argued that the option of fortified foods such as sweet potatoes might be essential in dealing with the drastic effects of undernutrition.
“Nutrition is on two categories in this case. There is preventive nutrition and curative nutrition. The latter is what is expensive as it entails dealing with the aftermaths of undernutrition.
“However, the real effects of undernutrition may not be really felt this year. Thus, we probably have time to consider initiatives that can avert the possible spending of more billions due to undernutrition,” said Nkhono-Mvula.
In a related development, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has disclosed that it is estimated that unsustainable natural resources use in the country is draining K86 billion every year.
This translates to 5.3 percent of Malawi’s GDP and coupled with other maladies like violence—which government recently announced drains K27 billion—these little-appreciated aspects silently exact a heavy toll on development.
According to Natural Resources Minister, Bright Msaka, Malawi’s natural resources are under increasing pressure from a number of factors, including population boom, decreasing landholding, climate vulnerability, poverty and capacity and governance gaps.
Meanwhile, government says it has allocated K4 billion for the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to purchase maize.
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