President Lazarus Chakwera has come gun-blazing in his defense of his plan to build houses for members of parliament (MPs) in their constituency which has come under heavy resistance from the opposition.
The opposition and analysts have chided the move and, instead, advised Chakwera to priotise constructing houses for civil servants including teachers and health workers.
However, during his Thursday session of answering questions in Parliament the His Excellency Question Time (HEQs), Chakwera said building house for MPs doesn’t mean government won’t build houses for civil servants.
“The housing problem of civil servants is a legacy of the DPP. I am here to correct it,” said Chakwera, flanked by the country’s second-in-command Saulos Chilima in the House.
Chakwera said while housing was a challenge to public servants, particularly security agencies and teachers, he said his governments approach was holistic.
“While houses for teachers and security agents are priority we are looking at this challenge holistically,” he said.
“We will continue constructing houses for all our civil servants. However, we will also construct houses for parliamentarians because we believe the move will improve accountability people in the constituency,” he said.
He also said it is surprising that some MPs are against the proposed housing project but none of the MPs has come forward to forfeit their housing allowances which cost tax payers money K2.7 billion every term.
Chakwera said: “The people of Malawi will pay over K2.7 billion in housing allowances to the members of this House during this term of office, yet not a single member has stood up to say that they would like to forfeit this allowance to go towards their constituents.
“From this double standard, I discern that the objections to the provision of an official house for MPs are not motivated by a desire to save money, but a desire to keep Malawians paying MPs’ housing allowances indefinitely.
“My proposal would cost the Malawian taxpayer nothing and save the taxpayer billions in the long term, so I am amazed that there are members here who believe it would be better to keep costing the taxpayer billions and saving the taxpayer nothing.”
Chakwera announced the MPs housing project in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) address last Friday.
State House press team said the project will be financed by unnamed investor.
But in a supplementary question to Chakwera during the HEQs, MP for Nkhotakota North East Martha Lunji asked the President to name the investor of the project and at how much it will cost “so that we should know the cost of the project.”
The President did not mention the investor and the cost.
Social and political commentator Stanley Onjezani Kenani has observed: “Building houses for MPs is not a priority right now, and there is no other way to put it. We have many priorities as a country, far more critical than houses for MPs.”
Kenani pointed out that the mess in the country’s education and health system alone would take years to resolve.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :