The state of our Parliamentarians

Gridlock is not the only lexicon that seem to have settled in for our politics – Dysfunction and listlessness are the new normal – It appears that there has been so much casual indulgence of people’s affairs in the house of Parliament as of late.

The evidence is clear that our honourable legislators lack seriousness and depth.

Most MPs have shown little or no interest in anything constructive as indicated by that proposition of deficient quality in their line of questioning and deliberations.

Clearly, there is a lacking of distinctive attributes or characteristics of leadership to show their preparedness, intent ness, gravitas and solemnity of manner.

For example, one would expect that each time the state president visits parliament he would be met with a fierce inquisition and a serious elicitation of answers and information on all questionable issues including some of the government scandals that have already made rounds in the public domain.

Parliament was supposed to be picking up instantly from what private agitators like Idriss Ali Nassah and others are providing as credible apparatuses. A well equipped house of legislators should have been more focused on calling for hearings and public probing on issues.

The MK6.2 billion scandal that left our fellow citizens dead not because their time had come, but simply because those who were in charge of their welfare and protection secretly connived and stole from them.

It appears that we still have a syndicate of an organized criminal cartel of looters who moved into our disaster reserves to plunder every tambala of remaining supply that we had left for immediate emergency support and response.

In the midst of all of this, we lost two cabinet ministers, MPs and a former state presidents son. Our capacity for hospitalizations and treatment was negatively affected, our front line workers were sent to battle with no proper armour, equipment and supplies.

Do they know?

I ask that we take a moment of silence to honour those we have lost during COVID-19, but also to reflect on what we could have possibly done differently.

Now the questions I have for our representatives are; first, do they know that by their own negligence and hesitancy to act, they have become accomplices to corruption?

Do they know that Section 89 part 4 of the Constitution of Malawi grants power to Parliament to summon the president for questioning?

Secondly, is it because Disaster management was placed under the office of the president and that many on the majority side have a disinclination that is forcing a hesitation to probe to avoid embarrassing the Executive?

These moments call for true leaders to step up against party beliefs and to ensure that the best interest of our citizens are catered to.

Consequently, we have seen how effective, disciplined and independent our governance institutions have become.

In November of 2020 the Ombudsman issued a detailed report that indicated how the plunder was orchestrated at DoDMA.

Why did Parliament not follow up on the audit mechanisms and demand a forensic report on how the president was directly involved in the management of the disaster management department?

The worrying sign of this lack of sophistication points to the degree of how badly compromised and weakened our House is.

Especially on the opposition side there’s hardly any sign of life, the despondency seems to have crippled the whole side of that divide with a heightened languor that has preyed on them with bitterness and anger.

It seems like the defeat at the polls in 2020 breathed such a disabling air of melancholy that has totally rendered our esteemed members of the opposition with loss of foresight and sobriety.

Do they understand?

The truth is that, a powerful opposition is a lifeline to a healthy democracy, and in the absence of a credible alternative to government, those that govern are left with no checks and balances.

Sometimes we are left with no apprehension at all if members of this sovereign house are fully aware and well educated on their role as legislators with a mandate.

The electorate gave them the right to fight and represent them fairly by not only making laws through constitutional means, but also to oversee how the government is conducting itself. Therefore, it is within the congressional house’s prerogative to be the first to probe and call for hearings and inquiries.

Given what we know now, we are drawn into a conclusion that many opportunities have been wasted and the truth is that laws and acts determine how response is transacted during disaster, and this is what our MPs should understand that they are failing the nation and future generations to come for their inability to serve the country.

For this reason, we can not even start talking about disaster response without looking at the role parliament plays.

It sounds absurd that the law that is currently used in Malawi for COVID RESPONSE is a pre independence and outdated act of 1948; The downside with the act as it is now is, it doesn’t give enough power to the relevant ministries like Health, Civic Education and other key stakeholders to act independently outside the jurisdiction of DoDMA.

De-centralization is important to consider and begin implementing accurate responses for ministries that are significant to daily activities in our society.

Honourable Members of parliament, I ask that you remind yourselves the reason and purpose you took this calling to be representatives of the people. Many Malawians know why they chose you, but it appears most of you don’t even understand the power of your legacy and capacity. I would like to remind you what Harry Truman once aptly said;

“Men (and women) make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skilful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

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