Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa on Monday presented a statement in Parliament in response to the State of Nation Address (SONA) that President Lazarus Chakwera presented on Friday, commending the President for recently touring the Area 18 interchange project, which is a brainchild of former president Peter Mutharika under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime.
Nankhumwa also commended some of Chakwera’s Cabinet Ministers who in the past weeks took their time of inspecting some projects initiated by the previous DPP Government.
“That was an indication that the new leader and his administration recognizes the huge contribution that the former president and DPP government made towards the country’s social and economic development,” said Nankhumwa
He said DPP has given Chakwera administration a ‘starter-pack for development’.
Nankhumwa informed Parliament that what President Chakwera delivered was not a true reflection of state of the nation.
“A true state of the nation today millions of Malawians are facing hunger as they cannot afford three meals a day, a bag of fertilizer is still at K23, 000 and all maize, tobacco, tea, coffee farmers are waiting for the day government shall fulfil its promise of K4995 Kwacha universal fertilizer subsidy, millions of our youths remain jobless despite being promised immediate 1 million jobs, passports are acquired at exhorbitant price not the promised K14,000 Kwacha, Malawians are still paying for water and electricity connection against the Tonse Alliance promise to scrape off the fees and that Malawi has not yet reached a point of equal opportunities for everyone but for a selected few,” he said.
He advised President Chakwera to promote peace and unity among Malawians.
Nankhumwa pointed out that Sona is a constitutional provision and an important annual tradition, and that ut must at least address a number of important elements – inlcuding the state of our democracy; the state of our economy and the service delivery.
“All these above elements were included in the SONA, but as they say, the devil is always in the detail,” he said.
Nankhumwa said as the first SONA for a first-time Head of State, the expectations of Malawians were very high.
“Malawians expected a comprehensive articulation of a roadmap of how this government would implement its vision and a development blueprint that we have heard so much about over the past couple of months. Instead, what Malawians got was merely a blank page where substance was relegated to the backseat,” said Nankhumwa.
He said President Chakwera did not do any justice to Malawians by pledging to construct official houses for Members of Parliament (MPs) especially considering that MPs are wealthier than many civil servants.
“Most of civil servants including teachers, nurses, police and army officers, social welfare officers and agriculture extension workers, among others live in dilapidated houses. This is an insult to poor Malawians. Indeed, a constituency office equipped with the necessary operational tools would have been appropriate,” said Nankhumwa.
The opposition leader observed that the zeal, dedication and tenacity with which President Lazarus Chakwera and his team displayed in campaigning for the presidency were impressive.
“However, they say he who drags a goat to the market also finds himself at the market. It is a naked fact that the June 23 polls left this country with a bitter after-taste and divided the nation along tribal and regional lines,” he said.
Nankhumwa said the opposition commend the government for highlighting an agenda of unity through the newly-created Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity.
“It is also important that such policy projection is matched by actions on the ground to indicate seriousness. Malawians are expecting to see how this peace and unity initiative will heal the wounds of victims of MCP 30-year atrocities.
“Malawians will be expecting to see how victims of political demonstrations in 2019 will be taken care of, especially in form of compensation for those that lost property and lives of dear ones,” he said.
Nankhumwa cited the death of Superintendent Usiman Imedi who was killed in the line of duty at Nsundwe in Lilongwe.
He said that although others may argue that “ you cannot judge a government that has just been in office for three months, I am saying it is possible to know the character of a government from its actions on its first day in office.”
Opposition leader pointed out that over the last three months that the Chakwera-led government has been in place, Malawians have seen “policy ambiguities and lack of decision-making.”
He said: “ We have seen doublespeak; within the last three months, we have seen arbitrary and politically motivated arrests.
“Within the last three months, regionalism and cronyism have reared their ugly head where husbands, sisters, wives and brothers have been appointed into cabinet.”
He said the Chakwera administration has displayed a sort of political power-play that would most certainly end in a leadership disaster of unparalleled proportion for his government.
“This transition period is a watershed moment for this country and we need an above-board leadership that must prioritize unity. The first thing that the President should have done was to take deliberate action to unite the country after an election that was bitterly fought on regional lines, not to allow his cheerleaders to foment divisions,” he advised.
“The President should borrow from the popular parlance of Father and Founder of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who said there is no Chewa; no Tumbuka; no Sena, no Yao; no Ngonde: no Nyakyusa; no Lhomwe; and no Mang’anja and that we are all Malawians. Former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi also pursued a Malawi-for-all policy, which saw the appointment of late Right Honourable Dr. Chakufwa Thom Chihana of opposition AFORD as Second Vice President and Minister of Agriculture,” he said.
He encouraged Chakwera to exercise caution in his quest to “clear the rubble,” saying the President must search for Nelson Mandela in him and reach out to his perceived enemies for the sake of unity and development.
“This is not a call for the government to stop seeking justice by not arresting those who clearly did wrong. No. The wheels of justice must surely continue to turn but we have a problem when the arrests are politically motivated and made purely based on excitement, and targeted only at members of the DPP. Justice must not be discriminatory,” said Nankhumwa.
He continued: “We can master any level of flowery language full of statistics and ambitious economic projections but if we fail on unity as leaders we have failed.
“This is a free lesson this government must learn at this very early stage. If it strongly feels that the DPP failed to unite the country, the right thing to do is not to foment further divisions. Is there not a saying that two wrongs don’t make a right?”
Nankhumwa said typical of new governments, there is always excitement like a young boy who is just learning how to whistle and urged the President not to fall in this trap because Malawians have high expectations.
“Malawians are waiting for the continuation of cement and malata subsidy, construction of classrooms and teachers’ houses, elimination of power and water connection fees and financial support to the elderly, among others.
“Indeed, Malawians businesses are waiting to enjoy a duty-free week; they are waiting for free electricity and water connection; our youths want to be among the one million people to be employed in the first 12 months of this government, and we have already done three months. Madam Speaker, This is what got the Tonse Alliance government elected on June 23.”
Nankhumwa said t the SONA failed to boldly define a comprehensive road-map, let alone timelines of how Chakwera promises would be implemented.
“Instead, the President chose to hide behind less definable Hi-5 agenda, such as prospering together and subtly throwing the responsibility of ending poverty in this country back to Malawians.
“We are, therefore, left to wonder whether this is a Tonse Alliance government or just an MCP government. You can see, therefore, that there is no time for Mr. President to put two feet on the table, two hands at the back of his head and to just roll with the season because the honeymoon is already over.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :