The third edition of Britain funded Question Time Malawi debate on Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Mzuzu Thursday was characterised by constant reference to political parties past track record and proven positives in their previous reigns as Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) outclassed United Democratic Front (UDF).
Both DPP and MCP were represented by power houses in Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba ‘the talking computer’ who is Second Vice President for the Centre and Felix Jumbe ‘the farmer’ Director of Campaign respectively with UDF represented by Deputy Publicist Judith Ngwira- who nonetheless proved she has a promising future as a publicist.
The debate centred on Health and Agriculture area of expertise for Ntaba and Jumbe accordingly.
They both enjoyed their speciality and added weight to their arguments with constant reference to initiatives that were successful during their time in power.
MCP urgued that by the time they left government, the exchange rate was at K4.50 and inflation at 4%.
“We had set the foundation for the country’s development but when the UDF and their friends started their reforms in these 20 years, the country stopped moving forward and now 50 years after independence we still have pockets of ultra poverty with people still living under a dollar a day,” Jumbe said.
Ntaba in turn concurred with Jumbe that the UDF messed up things during their time but refused to take the blame on DPP urguing that they changed things and in their term of office the country was one of the fastest growing economy in the world.
“Let me agree with Mr. Jumbe on one aspect, the UDF mismanaged the foundation of the country’s roadmap to success. Their reforms indeed were miscalculated but when Bingu and DPP came into power, we managed to sort out the situation.
“From a hunger prone nation we turned it into a food exporter in a short period that we could send maize to Haiti, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Had it been that DPP came right after MCP, the country would have been somewhere,” explained Ntaba.
During question time in the health section Ngwira and Ntaba refused to be drawn to make a stand on abortion sighting it as a complex matter that needs consultations but MCP was quick to pay respect to human rights.
“We in MCP respect the right to life in all stages, we cannot therefore determine who is to live and who has to die. That is not in our mandate as a party,” Jumbe pointed out.
Still in health, Ntaba and Jumbe took their time in history, with the later claiming that most of the health facilities in use now were established under the Kamuzu Banda regime while his counterpart refused to accept it entirely pointing out that there has been a few additions in health facilities and aquisition of modern equipment.
“Let me correct my colleague here, while I accept that not much has been done to increase the number of health outlets to much the growing population, the country has seen an increase in numbers and technology in these facilities so it wouldn’t be fair to say we are still using the old Kamuzu Banda’s facilities,” clarified Ntaba.
Agriculture was another aspect that proded the think tanks to go back in the history lanes again, this time it was the issue of who started subsidy.
Jumbe made it clear that subsidy was started in the 80s and that the others just copied and changed a few areas to confuse people and politicised its distribution process to enrich their political touch.
“We started universal subsidy way back in the early 80s which benefited the poor and the rich in their own perspective. Those who could not afford the universal prices would then, using clubs get farm input from Admarc on loan and upon harvest they had a ready market at Admark which inturn collected the input debts without a hussle,” he narrated.
In his response Ntaba said, “as much as I would agree with Mr. Jumbe, it is true that subsidy was started by MCP, under UDF it was re-designed and named TIP. When DPP came into power we made some modifications to the program and it became a success that country’s like Zambia and Tanzania came to learn from us and replicated the same in their coutries. It is these new people that have now politicised everything to the extent of distributing maize at political rallies, I challenge you to give me a date and area where DPP had a rally and had trucks of maize to give out.”
History was all in conflict with UDF that Ngwira who looked in-experienced and ill prepared for the task at hand was falling all over. She even had no knowledge on legality of abortion that she had to ask Ntaba.
According to ZBS the ruling Peoples Party failed to make it although they had confirmed attendance, one would quickly align that with their short history in power and track record in agriculture and health issues.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :