Debate in Parliament, Wednesday reached a high note when some Members of Parliament accused the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) for killing two villagers at Dzalanyama forest while guarding against people who had intentions of cutting down the trees for charcoal.
It is believed that mid last year, upon receiving reports that people were invading the forest and unnecessarily cutting down trees, government deployed men in uniform as one such measure.
However, instead of guarding against the forest, it is allegedly believed that the soldiers were terrorising communities around Dzalanyama to the extent of killing them.
Reporting in the House, Member of Parliament for Lilongwe South, Peter Dimba said it was unfair for soldiers to humiliate people they are supposed to protect right in their homes.
“I wish to report to this August House with sadness and great concern, while we acknowledge the role that our men in uniform are playing in protecting our forest, it is disheartening that they have gone beyond limits by terrorising our people.
“May I ask the government to speak to our soldiers to only guard the forest without intimidating Malawians especially those living around the forest. As I speak, two people from my constituency were killed by MDF officers,” Dimba explained.
This did not go down well with Minster of Natural Resources Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka who stood on a point of order asked Dimba to withdraw the accusations as it lacked evidence.
“The Honourable Member cannot come in here and start accusing our MDF soldiers without providing proof. Let him bring the evidence if what he is saying is true,” Msaka queried.
High tempers could be felt between the two Parliamentarians and Dimba contested accusing government for lack of care.
“After all the reports, the Minister energetically stands up refuting and defending the MDF as if nothing happened? This is sad let him show remorse and maturity,” said Dimba.
But Msaka still insisted for evidence.
Leader of the House, Francis Kasaila intervened but still requested for the evidence.
“All we are saying is that these are just allegations against the soldiers, let the member come up with the evidence he has,” Kasaila explained.
The remarks by Kasaila irked, Member of Parliament for Lilongwe Mpenu, Makala Ngozo who said the matter was a serious one and appealed to the government to intervene.
“This issue really happened and we had meetings at a district level, the minister should consult the Lilongwe District Commissioner for more details,” explained Ngozo.
Deputy Minister of Defence, Madalitso Ndau confirmed having received a phone call from Dimba and said he was waiting for the findings from the team he had sent to carry the investigations.
“Yes, I got the call from the MP and as an office we deployed staff to find out. I am yet to receive the report of the findings and, once I get it, I will communicate to the House,” Ndau said.
The confirmation by the Deputy Minister of Defence provided a relief for the First Deputy Speaker, Mcheka Chilenje to rule that the matter be closed until when the report is brought to the house.
“Since the Deputy Minister has promised to bring the report findings to this house, until then, the matter is closed,” said the speaker.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :