Leader of Opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera has said President Peter Mutharika’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the opening of the Sixth Meeting in the 46th Session of Parliament and the 2017/18 Budget Meeting in Lilongwe on Friday was ‘a copy-and-paste’ statement which did not address how government will push for radical economic transformation.
“The President has been saying what he said today since 2014 when he came into power. The statement was not a true reflection of what is currently on the ground,” he said.
Chakwera, who is also president of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) cited the Phalombe District Hospital and the Zomba-Jali Road as pet projects which the Mutharika’s administration has been using as campaign tools.
The MCP leader said he was disappointed that the President omitted electoral reforms in his one hour and 20 minutes speech. He described the omission as a ‘clear indication that the DPP government does not want any reforms at the Malawi Electoral Commission [MEC]’.
On the resumption of budget support by the World Bank, Chakwera said the $80 million (about K60 billion) credit to general budget support was in no way a vote of confidence for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government.
“Although the World Bank has shown a good gesture to support the budget, this is not a sign that the government is doing well on fiscal disciple.
“There are still a lot of loopholes in government and Cashgate is still taking place on President Mutharika’s watch,” said Chakwera.
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president cited former Agriculture Minister George Chaponda’s alleged involvement in the importation of maize from Zambia as an example that corruption is still rife in government.
“The truth is we are not disciplined in as far as abuse of resources is concerned. What the World Bank has done is an act of a mercy, we cannot afford to abuse public funds this time around,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera argued that the fight against corruption was “de-emphasised”.
“The president said something on corruption, but he did not say much on high levels of corruption. We know that the big fish are left free while smaller ones are prosecuted,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera said the opposition is grateful that Mutharika acknowledged economic challenges that the country has faced in recent times “even though nothing is happening on dealing with corruption”.
Themed ‘Harnessing Economic Gains for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development’, Mutharika focused on strategic achievements the government had made as well as plans for the year.
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