Justice Link executive director Justin Dzonzi has advised legislators to avoid taking to ransom government on issues of budget allocations lest they be called greedy and selfish.
Dzonzi said this Friday after members of parliament refused to approve any other budget for government departments and ministries on Friday unless the National Assembly budget was increased.
Pleas by Finance minister Goodall Gondwe to reason with them that the government could not increase the budget because of the bad economy fell on deaf ears as opposition members of parliament who were openly backed by Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera and Peoples Party acting president Uladi Mussa halted business in the House prompting First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje to make an early adjournment.
Dzonzi said this behaviour has reflected badly on the members of parliament.
“Members of parliament should never forget that they represent all Malawians, they do not represent themselves in the House so it was out of order for them to do what they did,” he said.
He said parliamentarians should always know that whatever they do, they do that on behalf of Malawians who sent them to the 193 strong House.
“The government owes every department or ministry money because of the current economic situation. It is not only the parliamentarians the government owes fuel arrears, this is not a unique situation, the MPs should not have behaved that way, this was unreasonable,” said Dzonzi.
He said it was uncalled for, that the legislators to abuse the powers to force the government increase budget allocation to their organisation, the National Assembly when other government departments are facing huge budget cuts.
“The government is even failing to buy medicine in public hospitals, the government is even failing to buy food for their constituents in public hospitals, should the government pay more attention to the MPs fuel allowance arrears and leave out critical areas affecting ordinary poor Malawians,” asked Dzonzi rhetorically.
On Thursday, MP Alekeni Menyani suggested to Finance minister Goodall Gondwe to increase the legislators K50, 000 daily allowance arguing it is too small to afford them put up in luxurious hotels when parliament is meeting.
“One day the honourable minister should accompany members of parliament to see where the honourable members put up in Chigwiri or Bwandiro, it is pathetic,” he said.
Gondwe did not make a comment.
The parliamentarians finally approved the K9.4 billion National Assembly vote on Friday morning after intense negotiations. The budget was increased by K100m as opposed to the increase of K1 billion the legislators wanted.
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