Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nicholas Dausi told Parliament he is not disorderly after a legislature roe on a point of order on his response to Thyola Thava member of Parliament (MP) Mary Navicha concerning telecommunications network coverage.
Navicha asked what criterion is used for the ministry to consider providing TNM and Airtel towers in rural areas, saying places like Senior Chief Mphuka, the whole area and part of Kwethemule lack coverage.
In his response, Dausi said Airtel and TNM were approached and they have done a survey.
“We will make sure that, if they see that it may not be economically viable, as government, we may use the Universal Service Fund to make sure that the area is attended to,” said Dausi.
But Boniface Kadzamira, MP for Ntchisi North stood ona point of order.
“Allow me to give a background before I raise this point of order. In the past, the then Minister of Information who is the current Leader of the House[Kondwani Nankhumwa], gave a comprehensive report on this issue of towers where he indicated that there were discussions with government that these service providers will be erecting one tower to service the areas where there are network challenges.
“My point of order is, is it is order for the Honourable Minister in responding to this question not to refer to that very comprehensive report which the then Minister gave because it gave hope to most Members in this Chamber,” said Kadzamira.
Kadzamira said since government is a collective responsibility and there is continuity in the business of government, the then Minister assured the House on how these service providers would be operatingand wondered if it is in order for the Dausi not to refer to that report which assured Members in this House when responding to network challenges.
In his reposnse, Dausi said: “it is a point of order and it means I have something disorderly. I want to assure you, Madam First Deputy Speaker, that I have done nothing disorderly.”
He added: “ Because it now points on that context, let me make this observation. On the first issue of collective responsibility and continuity in government, permanent officers shall always be there regardless of who is there and they give technical and professional advice to Ministers.”
Continued Dausi:”Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors where each one advocates for his or her own views according to Edmund Burke. Parliament is a deliberative assembly where we harness for the common good of the people. The common good in us, starts with the question. The comprehensive report given by my brother, predecessor senior Minister, mentioned about towers and even the Communications Act does allow that whether it is a tower of Airtel, network providers like TNM or Access can use it. The use of a different portal is there in the Communications Act. I do not have to refer to the old or the comprehensive report. The law is there, Honourable Member.”
Dausi pointed out that Navicha asked for two centres; Mphuka and Kwethemule, which are very far apart, “so much so that I could not have answered only on one tower.”