MPs take aim at Lazarus Chakwera
Line up questions for President
By Audrey Kapalamula & Cathy Maulidi:
As President Lazarus Chakwera is expected to appear before Parliament in a question-and-answer session Tuesday, members of Parliament (MPs) have lined up issues they want the Malawi leader to address.
Under Standing Order 70B, lawmakers are given the leeway to throw questions at the President.
Tuesday has been set for the exercise after President Chakwera delivered his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in the august House on February 3 2023.
As indicated on the House’s ‘notices for the upcoming business’, the first question is expected to come from MP for Zomba Lisanjala, William Susuwele Banda of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who is set to ask the President about plans his administration has to ensure that the fight against corruption is not lost.
“What plans does the government have to ensure that the fight against corruption in Malawi is not lost. Currently, Malawi has performed badly in the fight against corruption. The Director General of the Anti- Corruption Bureau [Martha Chizuma] spent more of her time fighting internal battles than doing what she was employed for,” Susuwele Banda plans to ask.
Ntchisi South lawmaker Ulemu Chilapondwa of the Malawi Congress Party is expected to ask the second question and his area would be the agriculture sector.
Chilapondwa wants the President to explain mechanisms his administration has put in place to expedite implementation of the mega farms initiative.
“While the government has taken some steps in implementing the programme in some areas, there is still more that the government could urgently do in many irrigable and non-irrigable areas so that Malawians should see that the government is really doing enough on this very good idea of yours.
“Lastly, I would like to know if there are any plans to resuscitate activities that used to take place in Press Agriculture and General Farming big estates which, I feel, can easily be made into mega farms,” Chilapondwa plans to ask.
On the status of Mangochi International Airport, Mangochi Central MP Victoria Kingstone of DPP plans to get an update from the President as she is expected to say: “Land was already earmarked and people of Mangochi are still in dilemma waiting as this would have changed the face of Mangochi, which is a tourism district/harbor.”
It is no secret that this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) has faced numerous challenges.
To this end, MP for Ntcheu Bwanje South, Mwisho Chilikumtima (independent), has planned to ask the President about plans he has put in place to prevent a recurrence of the problem of late distribution of farm inputs under the programme.
“Beneficiaries are getting the fertiliser too late, to [the] extent [that] they can’t use it this season,” he is expected to say.
The last question, as sent to the President, is expected to come from legislator for Machinga Central East, Daud Chikwanje of DPP, who is set to ask the President about the rising cost of living, economic challenges the country is facing as well as the issue of chiefs’ honoraria.
“Considering that after the depreciation of Kwacha, prices for commodities went up but chiefs’ honoraria has remained stagnant; Your Excellency, recognising the important role that chiefs play in this country, how are you going to assist the chiefs in order to cushion the suffering they are experiencing,” Chikwanje would ask.
Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda has confirmed about the questions and said they have already been sent to the President for him to prepare his responses.
“Yes, the questions have been sent to the President,” Chimwendo Banda said.
In an interview yesterday, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace National Coordinator Boniface Chibwana described the questions as critical and said they are addressing issues affecting the nation.
“Indeed the President has to come out clear on whether his administration is fighting corruption or not. On the AIP and mega farms question, in my view, I think we need to deal away with AIP since it is not working. Government should, instead, invest its energy and resources in mega farms,” Chibwana said.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Gift Trapence said MPs should not forget public reforms and cholera issues.
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Sosten Gwengwe will present the budget for 2023-24 budget on March 2 2023.
The House is meeting until April 17 2023.