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Roads Authority angers Parliament

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Members of the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Committee of Parliament have said they feel the Roads Authority (RA) undermined them by sending only chief economist after being summoned.

Chief Economist in the authority, Steve Sibande, appeared before the committee on Wednesday when, according to the members, they expected Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Matapa and other officials from the authority to be part of the delegation.

RA was summoned to explain to the committee the implementation of road programmes and projects for the 2016/17 fiscal year and estimated expenditure for 2017/18 financial year.

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When the meeting started, committee members asked Sibande where his colleagues were.

“We feel the Roads Authority has undermined the committee. I am sure they have management, including a board, hence they could have sent some members. We feel that sending only one person is not right. We know he is competent but there are other issues that he might not be able to answer. That’s the feeling,” said one of the committee members, Alex Major.

However, Sibande said he was prepared either to leave or do the presentation, arguing the committee made a decision without even hearing what he had to share with them.

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“The decision is not for me. I do not have to justify my presence if you are not satisfied before you even hear what I have and you do not even know how much I know about Roads Authority. I am prepared to either leave or make the presentation,” he said.

Ironically, only six committee members were present at the time they were raising the concern.

Vice Chairperson of the committee, Aboo Naliwa, called off the meeting, arguing the meeting was important and dealing with one person was improper.

In an interview, Sibande said Matapa had gone to Mzuzu for a scheduled board meeting and a letter of invitation from Parliament came last week, so they could not postpone the meeting in Mzuzu.

“I have no problem in my being sent back. I have worked in the civil service for a long time and yesterday I made a presentation to another committee. I was alone with my assistant; they did not take it badly,”

“My job is to plan and monitor activities of the Roads Authority. I have worked here for 15 years and I was among the team that set up the reform [team] to come up with RA. So, I feel I am competent,” he said.

According to Naliwa, the committee was not communicated, through their secretariat, that the CEO would not make it.

“To make matters worse, they only sent one individual from the entire RA which we felt was undermining the authority of the committee,” he said.

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