Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources chairperson Werani Chilenga has disclosed that his committee will form an independent body to be called Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC) under the auspices of the US-based International Conservation Foundation Caucus.
In an interview yesterday, Chilenga said President Peter Mutharika made a commitment to form the caucus when he delivered a keynote address at the organisation’s annual congress in the US during his visit in April this year.
“The caucus has branches in some countries. The President made a commitment that Malawi will have a replica caucus. I was there when the President made the commitment in April. Officials from the US caucus are coming to Malawi in August and the formation of the local caucus will take place at that time,” said Chilenga.
He said the formation of the local caucus means that the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources will work independently of Parliament and will have its own constitution and funding, among others.
“We shall operate like a civil society organisation. We shall have our own lawyers, secretariat and funding. We shall not depend on the Attorney General to handle cases that the committee would like to prosecute. So, the formation of the local caucus will speed up such cases like those in Chikangawa Forest where timber businesspeople are failing to settle debts to government,” said Chilenga.
“As a caucus, we can hire lawyers and prosecute those people with debts in Chikangawa. We shall be able to prosecute those involved in the smuggling of round wood,” said Chilenga, adding that the caucus will also be able to advocate for natural resources issues.
He disclosed that the US caucus will fund the local chapter for first three years. But he did not disclose the amount.
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