Opposition leader Kondwani Nankhumwa has said President Lazarus Chakwera had raised the hopes and expectations of Malawians when he pledged to reduce presidential powers but one year down the line, there has been no effort taken towards that promise.
“In fact, the President has accumulated more power as evidenced by the appointments of cronies and friends to key positions of power and influence. Many public officers have been dismissed and their employment contracts nullified for being suspected to be DPP sympathizers or supporters. Others have been arrested on trumped-up and politically-motivated charges,” claimed Nankhumwa when he presented closing remarks at the end of the 2021/22 Budget Session of Parliament.
He also said the President promised Malawians that his government would empower and free up governance and oversight institutions but what Malawians have seen so far is increased political interference and pressure on these institutions to tow the government line.
He said “toxic political interference” is also evident in the manner that CEOs and Directors General of some of these institutions are hired and that it is obvious that these people are put in those positions to serve the interests of the President and his Malawi Congress Party and not the people of Malawi.
He also accused the President of failure to curb wastefulness in government and parastatals in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic but the President, his ministers and senior public officials continue to travel within and outside the country for unnecessary business.
“The President should have demanded of his ministers and public officer to reduce official travel and introduce other cost-cutting measures to demonstrate commitment to fiscal discipline and lessen the impact of Covid-19 on poor Malawians,” said the youthful politician.
Nankhumwa said President has done nothing in the wake of revelations that members of MACRA, MERA, Egenco, Lilongwe Water Board, NOCMA and Escom boards and some managers recently flew to Dubai and other foreign countries to attend orientation workshops, instead of doing that locally to save money.
“These board members blew millions of Kwacha in the process when pupils across the country are learning under trees; when public hospitals are asking patients to pay for Panadol; when pregnant women are walking long distances to access maternity services; when most Malawians are drinking water from unsafe sources; and when public university students cannot afford to pay tuition and boarding fees, among others.
“Despite these serious abuse of public resources by the concerned parastatal board members and managers, the President has done nothing about it except for issuing empty threats on a political podium that heads would roll. The issue has died a natural death,” said Nankhumwa.
He said the President appointed a fourteen-member taskforce to look into the public sector reforms and that Malawians are fully aware that the taskforce presented a report to the President and are still waiting as to when, the public sector reform report will be made public.
Said Nankhumwa: “It is sad that when Malawians try to follow up on these promises or call upon the President to be true to his own words, we are told that these are presidential prerogatives. We are told the President will make a decision when and if he sees it fit to do so. The question that follows is, to whom is the President accountable? Where is the servant leadership that we heard so much about during the campaign period?”
Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill
On the recently passed controversial Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill, the opposition leader the manner in which the Labour Relations Amendment Bill had been acrimoniously pushed through by the government in this august House was “very disappointing” He claimed that the government consult relevant stakeholders and the labour movement to reach a consensus on how workers can seek redress over employment related grievances.
He warned President Chakwera against assenting to this Bill “because doing so would be taking this country back to the dark days of one-party dictatorship”.
In conclusion, Nankhumwa quoted the former President of United States, late John F. Kennedy who once said: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”, calling on President Chakwera to be willing to learn and listen, “even from the people he considers as his political enemies”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :