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MPs have betrayed the nation on Lilongwe Water Board project

It appears that the Malawi Law Society, in seeking judicial review, is fighting a lone battle in ensuring adherence to the law on the contentious Lake Malawi water project whose contract the Lilongwe Water Board awarded to Khatho Civils.

With the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MPC), People’s Party and the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament throwing their weight on the project—despite that Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was never done—there is no doubt that MLS might be fighting a losing battle, which, nonetheless is worth it.

It is very surprising that the very same august House which is supposed to defend the rule of law has suddenly seen nothing wrong in a project that is being fast-tracked in the absence of information on how it will impact on the environment.

The MPs are supporting the project on the understandable premise that Lilongwe experiences water shortages.

However, it is also a fact that the environment is critical to the very lake which is supposed to supply water to the Capital City, hence conducting an environmental impact assessment is a bare minimum for a project of such magnitude.

For posterity’s sake, we commend MLS for, against all odds, going ahead to seek the High Court’s review on the project.

Lilongwe has experienced water shortags for a long time and indeed any project that seeks to alleviate the same is a blessing, but doing so while cutting corners is not doing justice to the project that is for a good cause.

Not that we are surprised with the chameleon-like behaviour of our legislators, but we are just worried at the rate at which they, having earlier smelled a rat in the whole process, U-turned to pretend that all was well on the project.

We do not want to speculate and side with those who suggest that money has somewhere along the corridors of power changed hands, but the whole change of the tide on the issue raises more questions than answers.

And when it comes to seeking answers pertaining to the rule of law, the nation pins its hope on the august House sitting in Lilongwe.

In this view, we can say without fear of contradiction that our legislators have not only betrayed the trust that the nation placed on them but they are also setting a very bad precedent that may end up haunting the nation for generations.

Desperation for the solution to the Lilongwe water crisis is no justification for undermining the rule of law which our MPs shamelessly swore to defend.

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