Malawi Parliament on Thursday turned into an arena of racial tirade as legislators debated private members motion moved by Member of Parliament for Mulanje Bale, Victor Musowa of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with some expressing concern that despite Malawians of Asian origin doing business in the country being linked to financial scandals it is only indigenous Malawians who face the due process of the law.
Blantyre City South legislator Noel Lipipa supported the motion by Musowa, saying he has always wondered why each and every government keeps on supporting the Asian community.
“They claim to be part of Malawians when it comes to business. When it comes to investment, they are building poor structures, they invest outside the country. They don’t go to vote; they have never participated in the vote and yet they claim to be Malawians. Why are we sleeping, why don’t we from now on say that those that do not vote must never tap from the finances of these finances of Republic Malawi.
“Because you cannot claim to be Malawian only when you are receiving the business from Malawi government. I think we have been sleeping for some time, we need to wake up. Malawi wake up, Honourable Musowa, thank you very much,” said Lipipa.
Some MPs argued that despite reports on dubious transactions involving several companies owned by Malawians of Asian origin, none of them has been prosecuted or mentioned as witness in a court of law.
Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda was asked to mention the number of Indians who are jailed for financial scandal in Malawi, lamenting failure by authorities to pounce on Indians who participate in the plunder of public resources but remain free from prosecution.
Chimwendo Banda said not every Asian or Indian is involved in wrongful self-enrichment, saying they some others “doing good business [and] they will continue to do business.”
He said Minister of Justice will come up with a new legislation that will complement Procurement Act of Parliament ensuring that government is “empowering Malawians.”
He said: “This government will not make any Indian suffer but we want to make them respect the laws of Malawi and respect our people.”
Chimwendo Banda said the previous DPP government tolerated graft, citing the issue of K2.7 billion food rations case involving businessperson Zameer Karim.
“They [DPP] are people that benefitted K150 million from Indians,” said Chimwendo Banda.
“All dubious Indians should face the rule of law,” he added.
Immediate past president Peter Mutharika was accused of receiving a kickback from Karim when the businessman deposited 145m kwacha into an account belonging to the DPP, of which Mutharika is the sole signatory.
Mutharika acknowledged the existence of the DPP bank account, saying the account was set up only to support the party’s fundraising activities.
Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe said Musowa through his motion has sparked racial tension.
“You have really put the nation on tense moment,” said Gwengwe.
He pointed out that indigenous Malawians are not benefiting from public procurement despite available regulations for preferential treatment.
Gwengwe said government is striving to empower Malawians in doing business, accusing the previous DPP government of apparent economic injustice despite Parliament passing the Public Procurement Act in 2017.
“The Act was stuck for three years without being implemented and it is only Tonse government that is going to gazette the law [Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) on Administration of Preferential Treatment Regulations 2020 and PPDA Participation by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Order 2020],” he said.
Gwengwe heralded “the speed that Tonse govt has hit the ground running to empower SMEs – Small Medium Enterprises.”
He said the unequal sharing of the procurement ‘national cake’ has been glaring over the years, disadvantaging indigenous black Malawians.
“This government is moving to empowering local Malawians,” said Gwengwe.
The preferential treatment provision is provided for under Section 44 (10) of the PPDA Act, which compels procuring and disposing entities to award 60 percent of all contracts under national competitive bidding to indigenous black Malawians and the remaining 40 percent to others.
While domestic preference is a long-standing provision in Malawi’s public procurement legal framework, the 60/40 provision is new and imbedded in the PPDA Act.
The PPDA has since drafted the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (on Administration of Preferential Treatment) Regulations 2020 to operationalise and offer guidance on the implementation process of this provision.
Under the PPDA Participation by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Order 2020, small and medium enterprise means a business comprising at least annual turnover of between K50 million and K500 million, has between 20 and 99 employees or has maximum assets, excluding land and buildings in the case of manufacturing enterprises, of K250 million.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :