Speaker hits back at government
Parliament has hit back at government on its accusations against the National Assembly that it blew over K300 million to purchase vehicles for Speakers and the leader of opposition despite the turbulent economic times Malawi is currently facing.
Writing on his Facebook Page on October 26, 2015, Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, accused the Executive for what he called hoodwinking Malawians through Information Minister Jappie Mhango into believing that Parliament can procure items without government’s approval.
Msowoya wrote: “It is sad that the Executive using the Mini s t e r of Information has hoodwinked many Malawians [into] believing that Parliament can independently buy a bottle of water without its approval, let alone cars the minister is talking about. Malawi Parliament is not independent. All money and all procurement decisions are given by them.”
Msowoya wondered why government is bringing up the issue now when the actual procurement of the vehicles was done last year after he and the other officers had just assumed office, saying it was just that delivery by the vendor was delayed with the last one being delivered in January 2015.
Also in the Facebook post, the Speaker argues that the said vehicles are similar to all other government vehicles and that all procurement procedures were followed without any shortcuts.
“Speaker’s category is used by President (4), VP (2), Chief Secretary (1) and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Commissioner General (1). Some other Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in government may have them too. The one for Deputy Speakers and Leader of Opposition is used by all Principal Secretaries (PSs), Directors, all Judges, all parastatal heads, et al. They are not special to Parliament at all,” reads the post in part.
According to our sister paper Malawi News, the said vehicles are the state-of-art Toyota Landcruiser V8 costing about K96 million and three Toyota Prado VX costing K80 million each.
But Msowoya justified the procurement by saying the National Assembly had no cars for its officials and that their predecessors bought own vehicles.
He said: “There were no old cars. All Speakers and Leader of Opposition before us bought their vehicles, including Jappie Mhango’s boss, Honourable Jones Chingola, which Jappie as personal assistant to him used when at Parliament.”
In the post, Msowoya reveals that in the past five years government had spent over K720 million in hiring vehicles for the said officials thus justifying the move to buy the four vehicles.
The Speaker signs off by saying information on the matter is readily available to every interested Malawian and thus assured the nation that Parliament will ensure that truth is told in the course of calling the Executive to account.
Msowoya’s sentiments come after other quarters in the country have accused government of using the vehicles’ issue in order to divert Malawians’ attention from the numerous wrong doings being committed by the Mutharika administration.
But when called for comment on Tuesday Information Minister Jappie Mhango rubbished Msowoya ’s arguments saying he and the other officials are mere gluttons who do not care about the welfare of Malawians.
“With or without approval it is a matter of common sense that we need to be as cautious as possible when making decisions on such huge expenditures needless to mention that there is a government ban on procurements what is this so called speaker talking about?” Quizzed Mhango.
“That speaker is so naïve, does he not know that parliament does not make money, it is just a consuming entity. The judiciary and the executive do make money at least, so where do they get such audacity to tell Malawians that government gave them a go ahead to procure those vehicles
Right now government is striving at saving each and every penny that slips through its fingers because we all know the numerous challenges the country is facing,” he added.
Mhango further said there is no justification whatsoever for the move, saying he and other cabinet ministers are still using old vehicles all with the spirit of sparing government’s purse.
The Daily Times also checked with the Judiciary on the same being the third arm of government and its spokesperson Mlenga Mvula disclosed that his department is adhering to government’s directive and that there has been no purchase of vehicles in the past four years despite that the current ones are worn out and have hit their mileage limits.
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