Malawi’s Leader of the Opposition, Lazarous Chakwera, was on a charm offensive on Wednesday in parliament during his response to President Peter Mutharika state of the nation address, saying it was empty rhetoric.
Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, did not hold back in his verbal attack on President Mutharika, saying he was leading a broken society for one year he has been in power.
He said the nation is under severe stress as a result of the numerous pressing challenges Malawi is facing.
“ I am overwhelmed by sorrow and commiseration for millions of my fellow Malawians for whom the last twelve months (under Mutharika rule) have given them nothing to smile about. The current plight of Malawians across the country’s 28 districts is the stuff of nightmares, and if their desperate living conditions do not keep us up at night, we have no right to call ourselves the people’s representatives or to call ourselves servant leader,” Chakwera told parliament.
In a hard-hitting speech, Chakwera said throughout the 44-page address by the President in the National Assembly for 90 minutes, “Government” was mentioned more than 180 times while “Malawians” were only mentioned 12 times.
“Rather than telling us the harsh realities that Malawians are facing, the President decided to bombard us with yet another litany of the bureaucratic machinations of his government. Many Malawians waited with baited breath to hear the President’s comprehensive assessment of the state of the nation and how Malawians themselves can be part of the solution to propel themselves forward, but all they heard was a public relations address about how busy Government is. But Malawians do not want a busy Government; they want a productive one,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera said the President’s address was “nothing new and nothing inspiring,” saying it was the same old song with the only change in date on which it was delivered “otherwise it’s a familiar tune.”
He said while the address was titled “Fulfilling Our Promises”, it would have been more fitting for it to be titled “Inflating Our Promises”.
Said Chakwera: “This is because even though Malawians have already waited a whole year (or 20% of the President’s term) to see positive changes in their day-to-day living conditions, on no less than 50 separate occasions in his speech President Mutharika chose to make even more promises of what Government will do in the future. The message from all of this is clear: Malawians who want a presidency that delivers real-time living standard improvements will have to wait.
“So today I stand with the many Malawians who feel vindicated in their continuing suspicion that this administration is more obsessed with occupying the seat of government than improving the long-term living conditions of Malawians.”
Chakwera schooled Mutharika that a president’s primary responsibility is not to be an executive babysitter who presides over and takes credit for the regular activities government engages in regardless of who is president.
“The presidency is for spearheading and leading a national transformation agenda that redefines the motives, the means, and the ends by which government functions,” he stated.
Chakwera warned that opposition will, therefore, never accept any measurement of the nation’s progress that has no correlation with the living standards of rural Malawians.
“Our people’s focus on seeing their living standards improve is the reason we are not impressed by the empty rhetoric of a President whose address was mysteriously silent about the missteps of his government of blunders,” Chakwera said.
Speaking about the 2015/2016 budget to be presented by Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe on Friday, Chakwera said MCP will not be party to a situation to allocate resources to various votes and then go home and come next year allocate more resources to a government that is unaccountable and lacks transparency.
“We must therefore first of all take stock of resources we approved last year and compare with the outputs against the plans which were the basis for the allocation of those resources. There is a tendency to allocate resources and yet we are still not making progress as a country. Government must be accountable to the people,” he said.
Chakwera said the opposition are not impressed by the promises Mutharika claim to have fulfilled.
“We are not impressed by the new promises you are making. What we want is not the fantasy fulfilment of the promises of our President. What we want is the real-life fulfilment of the dreams of our people,” he said.
The opposition leader told the House that it is no secret that this year Malawi will face serious food shortage.
“But it looks like those in authority are sleeping on the wheel. The crop estimates for the calendar year indicate a shortfall and no serious thought and plan has been put forward to mitigate and avoid the 2002 situation,” he said.
He strongly recommended the refocusing of programs to able farmers to produce beyond food security but also income and forex security.
“ Even as we speak government says it is not ready with final crop estimates when we are almost half year through the year. And at the same time you hear that government plans to import maize. How much maize for instance will be needed? Government does not know. We all know that there are farmers and business people in this country who have lots of maize. Why is government rushing to suggest that it will import maize? I know the reason! To allow the usual suspects to continue to fleece government with inflated importation costs. This is cash gate wearing a different robe,” said Chakwera in his fluent English in American accent.
He said the MK10 billion set aside to purchase maize, must benefit Malawians who have maize instead of importing maize from outside.
The debate on President’s address continues on Thursday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :