Malawi lawmakers want Pres. Banda gagged on fuel allowances demand

Malawi lawmakers are seeking court’s intervention to stop President Joyce Banda’s public outbursts on their demands to have their fuel allowance arrears paid up, claiming the President is creating misconceptions.

“We are indeed contemplating to obtain a court injunction to stop President Joyce Banda from commenting and misleading the public and tarnishing our image on the fuel allowances,” said Edwin Banda, member of a taskforce on the matter.

The lawmaker of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who is also a lawyer by training, clarified that hat only 140 MPs are entitled to the arrears as the figure excludes cabinet ministers and their deputies and not 193 as many people are putting it.

“The number of MPs that are supposed to get the payment isn’t 193 as reported earlier, we’ve about 40 ministers and their deputies who are currently receiving their fuel allowances and they’re therefore not entitled to the pay,”Banda told Nyasa Times.

MP Edwian Banda: Claims Pres. Banda is distorting their fuel allowance demands

MP Edwian Banda: Claims Pres. Banda is distorting their fuel allowance demands

Opposition UDF chief whip, Dr Clement Chiwaya has also said it is not true that the MPs are demanding K10 million in fuel allowances despite that there were grievances that the MPs have.

But Presidential Press Secretary Steve Nhlane has claimed that MPs are blackmailing President Banda and her government by stalling parliamentary deliberations so that she should give them K10 million each in fuel allowance arrears dating back to 2009.

Nhlane has warned that those MPs pressing for the fuel allowances are digging their own graves and risk losing in the 2014 elections if they stick to their demands.

“People must know what is happening is that the opposition MPs is trying to blackmail the president and her government. There is no way the president can stop commenting on the issue because it is political. It is unethical and borne out of ill intention.

“They (MPs) are digging their own graves like what happened in 2009 election when the majority of opposition MPs never made it to parliament and the opposition candidates lost miserably in the election,” Nhlane is quoted as saying by one of the local daily papers.

Meanwhile, University of Malawi political science professor Blessings Chinsinga said he could not back MPs demand for fuel allowance arrears since 2009, which have accumulated to K10 million (about $27,000) for each of the 193 members.

He said giving the MPs such amount would be handing them “a blank cheque which they can use in their campaign.”

“They should be prepared to take a lead in order to sacrificing in the time of economic recovery, “said Chinsinga.

President Banda has also refused to bow down to MPs’ demands, describing them as unreasonable and unjustifiable.

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