The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has changed tune in the K4 billion “funding by-pass” which was allocated to 86 parliamentary constituencies before government committed to share to all 193 constituencies after it was exposed, saying party president and leader of opposition does not want his party to be part of the “experimenting with people’s taxes” as suggested by the Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe.
MCP second deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said his party does not want to be part of an arrangement embroiled in “dishonesty and thievery.”
Mkaka said if K4 billion was a genuine development budget, there was need for government to hide the source and the selection criteria of the 86 MPs it initially selected to benefit.
He said the oldest party does not want to be associated with sharing the “mess” created by Ministries of Finance and Local Government.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe insisted the money was from taxes, grants and borrowing and was saved from the re-adjustments of the 2017/18 budget that saw cuts to the development budget.
“So, I told the Minister of Local Government [Kondwani Nankhumwa] that in my view, this money could be earmarked for rural areas. The village or area development committees would decide what projects would be done and people in Lilongwe would give them the money,” said Gondwe.
But Mkaka said the party earlier nodded in parliament that the money be distributed to all constituencies because leader of had no enough information on the suspicious funding.
“This issue happened within two days and the leader of opposition was trying to get as much information on the issue as possible. That is why he made a statement that he does not want to be party to the experiment that government is making with people’s money,” he said.
Mkaka said: “In plain language, we in MCP do not want to be party to the mess and that is the stand of the party.”
MCP lawmaker, Juliana Lunguzi, criticised fellow opposition MPs for accepting Gondwe’s plan to disburse the funds to all legislators.
“My concern was that we are going to legalise something which is illegal. We ought to have pressed government to explain where exactly is the money coming from and how is it going to be disbursed,” said Lunguzi.
Meanwhile, Mzuzu-based governance expert Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that MCP’s decision has to be highly commended and seen as a positive step towards reversing Parliament’s decision on the matter.
“In the interim it must however be viewed as a mere statement of intent as on its own it cannot remove the decision that was approved by Parliament on this. Certainly, legally accepted processes -which may include but not limited to injunction or Parliament decision- will have to be followed to either nullify or halt the decision or process on this mysterious funding. Nevertheless, MCP’s statement of regret is timely in as far as piling the much needed pressure for the need to reverse the decision,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.
Commenting on the issue, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo, said members of civil society commend MCP for realising its mistake by publicly declaring that it will not be part of sharing the loot.
“This is commendable and MCP leadership must be commended for taking such a step,” Mtambo told Nyasa Times.
However, CHRR boss said mindful of the fact that formal processes have been done to regularise these illegal transaction the rights body call upon MCP, the rest of opposition, and other patriotic MPs in ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to join the general public in demanding for government to nullify or suspend the whole process regarding to the MPs funds through legally accepted means pending investigations into the whole saga.
“ In this regard, we categorically reiterate that these monies should never be disbursed to any constituency in Malawi and that both the Minister of Finance and Local Government be suspended with immediate effect for putting the country into disrepute,” he said.
In his closing statement in Parliament at the end of Mid-Year Budget Review, Chakwera demanded that the Anti Corruption Bureau should investigate the funding scandal.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :