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Parliament drags feet on ex-speakers’ benefits

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Clement Chiwaya

Three weeks after former Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya shot himself dead reportedly over prolonged benefits discussions with Parliament, it has emerged that former Speaker Richard Msowoya and First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka are in a similar situation.

Among the issues which Chiwaya raised in his suicide note was that Parliament was not being helpful in ensuring that he gains full possession of the vehicle he had been using in his official capacity and had now duly purchased it.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Mcheka said for almost two years now, she has been using the vehicle without a registration number because Parliament has not changed the vehicle’s ownership to her name.

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“There can only be one PAR 2 [Parliament 2] at a time. It is someone’s turn now, but because ownership has not been changed up until now so I move around with the car without a number plate,” she said.

While regretting Chiwaya’s incident, Mcheka said she felt his pain because they had been following up their issues together.

“It’s been two years. I do not think it should take that long to change ownership of a car. We bought the cars before we left the office and as of now my car bears information under Parliament. Those that have seen me know I travel without a number plate. I cannot even buy insurance. There was a time I was involved in an accident. I went to the authorities at Parliament and they did not help in any way,” she said.

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Mcheka said she got involved in an accident twice with the vehicle but has been unable to get it fixed because it was not insured and she could not afford to have it fixed using her own resources.

“I have faced numerous problems. You know the cars are expensive and insurance helps but I can’t get it insured. I had another accident sometime in March this year during the by-elections [in Nsanje]. Until today the car is not fixed. When I went to Toyota Malawi for a quotation, it was about K3.6 million and I could not do it and I just left it as it is.

“I move around with a vehicle without a windscreen. I do not want them to fix the car for me but if it was in my name I would have been able to insure the car and manage it,” she said.

In a separate interview Friday, Msowoya said he too is waiting for government to finalise the process of change of ownership.

“When I bought my car, they gave it to me. If you buy my car you can take but it may take me a few weeks to change ownership but it is still your car.

“So when you say ‘Was everything done?’, I say everything was done in terms of me paying for the car and I got the car but I am waiting for the papers for government to complete their processes for me to register it in my name,” he said.

Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye said they will this week be dispatching letters for the former speakers to avail themselves to finalise the change of ownership process.

“We are almost done with the process of change of ownership. We will be communicating with them shortly so that they can come for us to finalise the process. All the paper work is now done,” he said.

In his suicide note, Chiwaya said Parliament had been denying him what belonged to him.

“Parliament feels they have the audacity to deny me what belongs to me and I have to go and beg them. I have had enough of that. With a fully loaded gun I could have killed these people but I will go alone. Let them prevail,” said Chiwaya in the note.

He shot himself in the office of Clerk of Parliament, Fiona Kalemba on September 30.

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