The civil society organisations (CSOs) pushing for resignation of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe—who is under pressure over the K4 billion allocation to legislators that critics say is irregular— on Wednesday accepted Gondwe’s request of holding a roundtable discussion on the matter.
In a letter dated March 12 2018, Gondwe invited leaders of Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of the People (CEDEP) to an “interface” meeting on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at the ministry headquarters at Capitol Hill in Lilongwe.
After their discussion, the CSOs agreed to meet with Gondwe but with conditions that the date of the meeting must be changed and that the two parties must look for a neutral venue.
According to a letter replying to Gondwe’s invitation dated 14 March 2018 and signed by YAS leader Charles Kajolowe, CHRR’s Timothy Mtambo and Cedep’s Gift Trapence, they believe that the meeting will be genuine and founded on principles of mutual trust and respect.
“We are pleased to inform you that we have accepted to have a roundtable discussion on the K4 billion Parliament scam as you requested but with the following demands; that the date must change to Friday because the 48 hours you gave us was not enough [to prepare] and that the venue for meeting be at a neutral place to be agreed by both parties.
“We hope the meeting will be genuine and importantly, that the best interest of Malawians should prevail,” reads the letter.
However, Nyasa Times have learnt that some CSOs were against the decision claiming such meetings are always fruitless especially when it comes to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
They also feared that Gondwe’s plan is to delay their action apart from destroying their reputations to the public that they accepted the meeting with the aim of receiving a “sweetener.”.
The dialogue invitation followed mounting pressure and calls from some CSOs for Gondwe and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa to resign for allocating K4 billion to constituencies without proper explanation of the source of the funding and criteria used to select beneficiary constituencies.
Initially, the K4 billion was meant to benefit constituencies only with each receiving K40 million, but after Malawi News report exposed it and uproar in Parliament, a deal was reached between government and the opposition for all the 193 constituencies to benefit.
A local governance activist Makhumbo Munthali said while the dialogue must be viewed as one of the platforms for the public purse-keeper to clarify his role in the K4 billion saga, “caution must be taken by the invited CSOs” when engaging with government.
Munthali told Nyasa Times: “It is a fact that DPP government initiated dialogue has in the recent past proved to be mere platforms of appeasement and window-dressing to score a political point rather than addressing the real issues at hand.”
Munthali said the invited CSOs “must realise in their engagement that while dialogue is a positive step forward, the nature of the issue at hand also requires that a number of avenues still be explored in as far as coming to the bottom of the issue at hand, and that all those who flouted the processes be held accountable on the same.”
The governance activist pointed out that issues of allegations of corruption in relation to rewarding the rejection of 50% plus-one electoral law, the flouting of legally sanctioned government procedures in the way the issues has been handled by the two ministers Gondwe and Nankhumwa, “cannot necessarily be resolved in the dialogue set-up.”
Munthali then urged the invited CSOs and government to put into considering the factors of accountability and transparency as they deliberate in the public interest.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :