When people are appointed into public positions such as that of a cabinet minister, they must serve the best interests of Malawians and not personal or partisan interests, Leader of the Opposition, Kondwani Nankhumwa said in Parliament on Friday at the end of the 49th session of parliament and budget meeting in Lilongwe.
He said for example, when Malawians are against the construction of official MPs’ houses, ministers should listen instead of displaying executive arrogance, insisting that the project would go ahead “whether you like it or not”.
“When civil society organizations express reservations about some aspects of the Access to Information law, ministers must amicably engage such quarters instead of demonizing them. That is what servant leadership demands,” said the Nankhumwa who is also DPP’s Vice President for the South.
Nankhumwa said he had known President (Lazarus) Chakwera as a man of his word and that he would soon reshuffle his cabinet as promised at the beginning of his term.
“It is obvious that as we approach the six months mark, some ministers are shaking in their boots, fearing for the worst. I wish to encourage cabinet ministers who will be fired to remain strong and avoid committing suicide. There is life after cabinet.
“To those that will make it into the new cabinet, I wish to congratulate them in advance,” said Nankhumwa, attracting a round laughter from fellow legislators.
He then turned to councillors, observing that they receive peanuts and do not have access to loans “yet we expect them to be hard working in spearheading development projects in their communities”.
Nankhumwa asked the government to review ward councillors’ perks to match their status.
To the elderly, Nankhumwa observed Malawi has one of the highest elderly poverty statistics in the world. He reminded the government about the campaign pledge to give financial support to the elderly.
“I am concerned that the national budget did not contain this very important aspect,” he said.
Nankhumwa said as if elderly poverty is not enough, there are escalating cases of violence, abuse, and murder of old people on allegations of witchcraft.
“I wish to request the government to put in place the necessary security mechanisms to avert these barbaric acts. Government must defend and uphold the rights of our senior citizens; they must be protected from discrimination and abuse based on their age,” he said.
On women, he called upon government to take gender activists’ concerns for equal opportunities seriously “because it is generally agreed that when you empower women, you have empowered the nation”.
“I have in mind the recent demonstrations by gender activists who are demanding gender equality, particularly regarding appointments in the public sector where the laws stipulate 40 percent share for women,” he said.
Nankhumwa then said he was concerned by under-privileged public university students, particularly at the Polytechnic, being threatened with expulsion for failure to pay tuition fees.
“I wish to remind the government about their campaign pledge that they would ensure that no student drops out of school because of school fees.
“Government must immediately intervene because education is not only a human right but also a strong foundation for nation’s meaningful social and economic growth,” said the Leader of the Opposition.
Nankhumwa then acknowledged the government’s management of the impact of COVID-19 through various policy interventions.
However, he encouraged Malawians to continue seeking Divine Intervention amidst this deadly pandemic because “the Lord works in mysterious ways”.
“I stood four-square behind President Chakwera when he called on all Malawians to hold prayers for three days at the height of the Covid-19 fight. I have no doubt that those prayers have contributed to the flattening of the curve in this country. We must never underestimate the power of prayer to move things,” said Nankhumwa.
Meanwhile, Parliament has adjourned indefinitely after conducting business for seven weeks which saw the passing of the K2.2 trillion 2020-21 national budget among other businesses such as Bills, reports and questions to Ministers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :