People of Phalombe District, sick and tired of being taken for a ride by successive Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) governments despite supporting the party in large numbers, have petitioned President Peter Mutharika over government’s inability to roll out the district hospital project years after it started “receiving funding” in the national budget.
As recently noted by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Parliamentarian; who is also the current Chair of the Parliamentary Health Committee and Shadow Minister (Health) for her party in her response to the 2015/16 Budget Statement, construction of Phalombe District Hospital has been featuring in budgets dating as far back as 2007.
To date, not a single brick is in evidence.
Delivering her contribution to the 2015/16 debate in parliament a week ago, Hon Juliana Lunguzi sympathised with the people of Phalombe.
“I would be failing in my duty if I do not talk about the plight of the people of Phalombe. Phalombe District Hospital, Mr Speaker Sir, is in the budget, yet again this year.”
She went on:“Mr Speaker sir, for how long are we going to cheat people of Phalombe that they will get a hospital?I made to believe that since 2007, ‘construction of Phalombe District Hospital’ has always existed in the budget.Yet up to now, Phalombe District Hospital, does not exist in Phalombe.”
Lunguzi quizzed her fellow parliamentarians from the area:“Fellow honourable members from the Government benches, how do you manage to look the people of Phalombe in the eye when you visit them?”
She then offered her peers free advice saying:“We must learn to respect and honour our pledges to fellow citizens.”
In the petition presented to Phalombe district commissioner (DC) Paul Kalilombe, the residents have, among others, given Mutharika 14 days to visit the district and appreciate their concerns.
The DC has confirmed to the media that he indeed received the petition on behalf of the President.
Kalilombe, implying that this is not the first petition that the hapless people of Phalombe have made to Government; said since a prior petition, several activities have taken place to lessen the people’s pressure in terms of access to health facility while waiting for the start of the project.
He cited construction of a theatre room, an additional ward, part of administration block at Phalombe Health Centre and disbursement of compensation to owners of the land where the new hospital will be built.
All these however do not constitute a District Hospital which usually serves as the first referral centre in a district.
This explains why residents are impatient with the delays to start construction and have since threatened to stop further construction works at the health centre should the President defy their petition.
Also speaking to the media on the same issue, Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said that although government had been showing the amounts in the budget “they were only for purposes of budgeting” and no funds were drawn.
This statement has left many Malawians wondering what else in the K930 billion 2015/16 budget is “there just for the purposes of budgeting”, never to see the light of day.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :