PAC demands MPs to meet over Cashgate

Heated debate ensued during two-day Public Affairs Committee (Pac) all-inclusive stakeholders meeting in Blantyre with delegates calling for Parliament to convene by March 10 to deliberate on infamous Capitol Hill looting of public funds christened as Cashgate.

Delegates to the meeting held at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre highlighted several issues of national importance which were pointed out as priority demanding President Joyce Banda’s immediate attention.

However, the proposal for President Banda to convene Parliament before it is dissolved on March 20, generated heated debate with government officials especially Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ephraim Chiume arguing there was no money to finance the meeting.

Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume:  Says no funds for meeting but queried why is the President wasteful with roadshows daily

Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume: Says no funds for meeting but queried why is the President wasteful with roadshows daily

Chiume argued that there were no funds in the current budget to meet the cost of the Pac’s proposed meeting, adding Business Committee of Parliament had already agreed the august House to meet in the first week of April.

“I feel it is not wise to talk about 10th of March because Parliament is expensive. There are no money in the current budget to convene a meeting when government committee already agreed to have a meeting in April,” Chiume said.

This did not go well with the delegates who highlighted the issue as main priority on the Pac’s resolutions, arguing it was unfounded to claim there was no money when there were visible expenses by President through political gatherings across the country dubbed development rallies.

They further argued ‘Parliament is a citizen’s Parliament’ therefore based on Section 67 (4) the august House can be convened by March 10 in an emergency capacity and demanded the Business Committee to meet again to come up with the agenda.

Minister of Justice, Fahad Assani came to the rescue of government as well as ruling Peoples’ Party (PP) and conceded to the demands, promising to convey to the President the delegates’ demands. Fahad said would ensure all the necessary arrangements were made for Parliament to meet by the insisted date.

Among the issues delegates demanded Parliament to deliberate include the distribution of maize at political rallies by President Banda, the issue of presidential jet sale, cashgate as well as need to criminalize cash handouts by politicians including the President.

Other issues discussed during the meeting were Constitutional Review and the need for government to reveal names of people and institutions involved in Cashgate scandal to ensure those involved do not participate in the forthcoming May 20 Tripartite Elections.

Minister of Finance Dr. Maxwell Nkwezalamba on Tuesday angered delegates to meeting when he failed to explain why there is no evidence to show that government is in receipt of money realised from the sale of the presidential jet.

PAC – made up of the main Protestant, Catholic and Muslim faith groups in Malawi –organised the third All Inclusive Stakeholders Conference to allow stakeholders to thoroughly examine the current political and economic challenges the country is facing.

During the PAC conference, Professor Matthews Chikaonda, Group Chief Executive Officer of Press Corporation, spoke on ‘Insulating Economic and Development Policies in Malawi’, Dr Gaston Kanchedzala of the University of Malawi made a presentation on ‘The Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability in Malawi’, while Ministers of Finance and Justice and Constitutional Affairs spoke on ‘State of Affairs on Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability in Malawi.

Whereas Reverend William Mumba of Zomba Theological College spoke on ‘Morality and Integrity in Malawi: A Faith-based Perspective’.

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