The names of absent Members of Parliament (MPs) during the national budget but still pocketing allowances include ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Blantyre City East legislator Noel Masangwi and former minister of foreign affairs and Peoples Party (PP) Nkhatabay North MP Ephraim Nganda Chiume.
Masangwi and Chiume hardly ever attend the meeting of budget since it opened weeks ago.
However, they still tax payers are still paying for absent MPs who also include Rachel Zulu of Mchinji North , DPP’s Phalombe central MP Felton Mulli and Malawi Congress Party’s Ezekiel Ching’oma.
Also missing the House meetings is independent MP for Mzimba Central, Henry Mpofu Shaba.
MPs get K40 000 per day as subsistence allowance and K10 000 sitting allowance which is paid out before the meeting starts.
DPP chief whip Henry Mussa who is also Minister of Labour said the party encourages all their legislatures to attend plenary sessions as well as committee meetings.
He said MPs who fail to attend meetings are expected to give reasons.
According to Mussa, the absence of Mulli is due to illness.
“Honourable Mulli has been unwell,” said Mussa.
However, he could not come to the defence of the perpetual absence of Masangwi.
He said Masangwi is amongst few MPs who have “an attitude problem” and are pre-occupied with personal errands.
Mussa said some MPs “cannot stand and speak in the House.”
PP’s leader Uladi Mussa said some MP’s lack “passion” to serve.
He said Zulu has been in China for personal business but could not explain the absenteeism of Chiume.
Absenteeism has become herculean challenge the House is grappling with.
Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya pointed out that absenteeism was denting the image of Parliament in the eyes of the public and having a negative effect on businesses on the floor of the august house.
“In view of this observation, the Committee of Chairs supported by the leaders of political parties represented in the Business Committee, resolved that with immediate effect, the office should recover the allowances from members who do not attend the plenary and committee meetings without leave of absence or without valid reasons as required by Standing Order 41,” said the Speaker
Standing Orders 41 (3) states: “A member who is absent without seeking leave of absence shall forfeit all allowances during the period of absence.”
The Speaker can grant leave of absence, according to Standing Orders 206 (3), on the two grounds of illness or family emergency to enable an MP attend to public business locally or abroad.
The absenteeism in the House is likely to revive the debate over the increased cost of public administration and whether the country 197 MPs.
Others are calling for the re-enactment of a recall provision, where constituents can sack their MPs and vote a new member.
Currently, a seat of an MP can only be vacated if the member is absent without leave from the Speaker for three successive meetings of the assembly, according to Standing Order 206 (4).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :