In a recent news item the Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango, singled out procurement of vehicles at Parliament as one of the factors responsible for the current economic woes.
In this news item, the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition, who happen to be the Vice President and President of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) respectively, were roundly vilified for “blowing” a cool MK300,000,000 of tax-payers money on “state of the art” vehicles while the masses are suffering under the untold misery of “austerity” measures.
Among other things, the Minster alleged that this is what has led to Malawi overspending and earning the wrath of the IMF.
Following debates on this issue – which is refusing to die, some Malawians have gone on the defensive, and they are raising all sorts of counter-accusations, most notably the recent overblown UNGA delegation.
Others are condemning this wanton waste and wondering what has become of MCP’s servant leadership.
Very few, me included, have been neutral because when politicians take their fights to the media, there is always more than meets the eye.
Having done a sober analysis, I now want to weigh in. The natural starting point is the defense by Parliament via its spokesperson.
It appears that the genesis lies in the entitlements as enshrined in the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) Conditions of Service.
Going by the entitlement and subsequent approval of the procurement by the Ministry of Finance, the Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango has no case against the Speaker of Parliament or the Leader of Opposition.
When one looks beyond parliament, it becomes even clear that the vehicles Dr Chakwera and Hon Richard Msowoya are being demonised for, are not the only state of the art Vehicles bought in Malawi of late.
Next time the presidential convoy is on the road, take a closer look at the presidential fleet. Believe you me you will notice at least four Toyota Land-cruisers V8, which were not bought by former President Joyce Banda.
Coming down the ladder to Vice President, at least two Toyota Land cruisers V8 on his convoy are not left-overs from former Vice President Khumbo Kachale’s fleet.
The Chief Secretary’s Toyota Land cruisers V8 model he is driving is the same as the one that Speaker is being accused of “buying extravagantly” and it is not older than 2014.
Picking just one parastatal, say the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), a Toyota Landcruiser was bought for the former DG before his deployment to MERA.
Mrs. Rosa Mbilizi, the deputy, is also driving a Toyota Prado VX, exactly the same make that everybody is up in arms denigrating the poor Leaderof Opposition for buying against a background of austerity, as if authority to procure motor vehicles emanates from the MCP headquarters.
I doubt if Toyota Malawi Limited donated the cars to MRA for free.
I therefore fail to understand why when Dr Chakwera and Richard Msowoya, as entitled, get official vehicles; it is called “extravagance”; but when the President, the Vice President, the Chief Secretary, the MRA Director General and his deputy, and probably a host of other appointees and “redeployees” get four-by-four utility vehicles, it is not worth space in the mainstream media.
The point is: information in the public domain is that at parliament, previous office bearers bought the vehicles for personal use at the end of 2013/2014 financial year, leaving the new office bearers with no official vehicles as stipulated in the PSC Conditions of Service.
Parliament, reportedly resorted to hiring, an undertaking far more expensive than buying a car.
When one soberly contrasts this with the four additional vehicles added to the president’s mile-long convoy plus the two added to the Vice President’s fleet; the Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango’s finger-pointing act makes no sense.
Add to this the fact that one former Deputy Speaker, Jones Chingola, for whom the current Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango was working as Personal assistant bought one of the vehicles – something the minister cannot have already forgotten – makes the assault on parliament nothing but a hate-driven campaign, whose purpose and end only the good minister knows.
Doing a bit of Arithmetic, counting all the vehicles mentioned above, if we go by the prices the Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango cited, i.e. MK96 million for Toyota Land cruiser V8 and MK80 million for the Toyota Prado VX; the tax payer has lost in total MK1.18 billion.
Why then is the focus on the MK336,000,000 spent on four parliamentary vehicles and not on the Executive’s MK848,000,000 with the president allocated not one, not two, but four?
I can safely submit that his selective assault on Parliament is typical of the usual gamesmanship associated with failed leaders.
In the least, it is a blatant and disgusting diversionary tactic, which unfortunately has succeeded in fooling even the most sophisticated of Malawians.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :