Malawi’s opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) president Mark Katsonga has called for an immediate resignation of President Joyce Banda and her administration to make way for early elections.
Katsonga told a news conference in Blantyre on Friday that President Banda could not go up to next year’s polls at the rate she was going, saying she should negotiate with other political parties to form a “genuine government of national unity” other than waiting for a total collapse of government.
He was commenting on the end of a two-week old civil servants strike after government on Thursday bowed down to demands to raise its workers’ salaries by 61 percent.
Katsonga said government need to explain how the pay increase will be financed because earlier Minister of Finance, Ken Lipenga had issued a statement that government will collapse if they were to meet the pay hike demands by the workers.
“It is either the honourable Minister was lying to the nation or the administration has decided to slump Malawi into a state of bankruptcy, either of which is unacceptable. Malawians therefore deserve an elaborate clarification as to the management of this extra funding because it was the same Minister who also lied to the nation of the MRA scam,” said Katsonga.
He was referring to the time Lipenga oversaw the exaggeration of revenue figures under the Bingu wa Mutharika administration during the infamous zero-deficit budget. He was in-charge when budget director Dr. Dalitso Kabambe ordered the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to borrow K15 billion from local commercial banks and pretend it is government tax revenue.
As Finance Minister, Lipenga went ahead to lie to Parliament and the whole country that the weird zero-deficit budget was working but he was only exonerated by “a sham of an investigation” headed by Vice-President Khumbo Kachali and comprised other Cabinet members such as Lipenga’s immediate predecessor, Ken Kandodo.
And on Monday, Lipenga said government could ill afford the demanded salary increase for civil servants as meeting their current demands would see the wage bill jump by 200 percent from the current K92 billion (about $269.4 million) to K276 billion (about $766.7 million).
Katsonga said basing on Lipenga’s statement, it was proper for government to step down and call for early general elections or else government of national unity be formed before things get out of hands.
He went further stating that the recent industrial unrest by civil servants was a clear sign of a vote of no confidence to the People’s Party administration.
“It will not be a misrepresentation to state that Malawian workers are not the most aggressive in this part of the world, and when they react in the way they have done over the period under review it signals serious wake-up call to all people in authority in the running of government in this warm Heart of Africa,” said Katsonga.
The PPM president also commented on reports that police in Lilongwe and the commercial capital of Blantyre used tear gas to break up demonstrations by hundreds of school children.
The students, from public primary and secondary schools, had gone two weeks without attending classes following the public workers’ strike.
“PPM would like to warn the government that such government negligence is so unacceptable that all Malawians are now saying enough is enough,” he said.
Katsonga also attacked President Banda for leaving the country to attend a summit in Equatorial Guinea while the country was at a standstill with the civil servants strike.
“We have seen heads of state cancelling whole trips or withdrawing from trips abroad in order to attend to issues of national concern. We think our president’s decision to leave for the Equatorial Guinea at this time was not appropriate and a clear manifestation of her disregard for the welfare of Malawians,” said Katsonga.
He said leaving the country at a time there was a crisis with about three quarters of the civil servants on strike, was the last thing the President should have done.
But President Banda justified her three-day trip, saying it is going to improve the bilateral relations between African and South American countries.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :