Lawmakers have started getting allowances for their drivers and security, starting the last meeting of Parliament, Malawi News has learnt.
Five MPs we spoke to confirmed the development independently on Friday.
Earlier reports had suggested that the lawmakers had increased sitting allowances for themselves.
The MPs we spoke to justified the allowances for their drivers and security, saying they have been lobbying for them for years.
They said they have been spending a lot of money for their drivers and security when the House is meeting.
“Some of us don’t drive. Others can’t drive long distances. Yet others can’t drive at night. As such we hire the services of drivers to drive us to Parliament,” said one lawmaker Friday.
The lawmakers could however not shed more light on the amounts involved, describing it as personal.
Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye asked for more time when contacted on Friday.
But Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Gift Trapence Friday described the allowances as ill-timed.
He said this is coming at a wrong time when the country’s economy is struggling and while Malawians are struggling even to access essential drugs in hospitals.
“Instead of introducing austerity measures to cushion poor Malawians they are cushioning themselves. HRDC calls for Parliament to reverse this introduction of new allowances.
“The saving from these allowances can be channeled to other sectors such as health to save the lives of poor Malawians. For once Malawians want Parliament to serve the best interest of poor Malawians,” Trapence said.
Political and governance commentator, Makhumbo Munthali Friday said there is need for Parliament to be transparent on such allowances in the spirit of Access to Information law.
In December 2020, the MPs raised the budget for their salaries and allowances from K15.4 billion to K20.7 billion.
At the time of that increase, the MPs were getting a K862 400 as basic salary, alongside K200 000 for housing allowance, K400 000 as constituency allowance and K250 000 for motor vehicle maintenance.
They were also getting K150 000 as hospitality allowance and K150 000 for utility bills.
The allowances then totalled K1 151 860 per month.