"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Govt bills belong to all Malawians - by James Mphande

If government allegations that the opposition in Parliament has connived to reject all government bills is true, then we have good reason to question the reasoning of our parliamentarians.

It does not require the intelligence of a rocket scientist that government business, in this case bills, are for the benefit of all Malawians, irrespective of political affiliations.

This is why we would ordinarily be reluctant to believe the allegations by the government side. And if it were only leader of opposition John Tembo commenting on the allegations, where he denies ever reaching such agreements, we would have dismissed government’s claims for mere political rantings, emanating from frustration.

But hearing leader of UDF in the House George Mtafu, declaring that government will have tough time in pushing its agenda in Parliament because it does not have the numbers, then we have good reason to believe the government claims.

Suffice to say we are not judges to apportion blame to either of the two parties. However, we would like to notify members of the august House that shooting down any government bills without looking at their merits, is as good as committing suicide. Firstly, when such bills are prepared, they do not look at people in terms of their political colours, they are meant for Malawians. It is therefore wrong for parliamentarians to reject them just because they have the numbers to do so. This is what is referred to as abuse of position.

MPs should always remember that they are in Parliament to represent views of the electorate and it is wrong to toe party lines where issues of national interest are concerned. Such kind of behaviour is at best retrogressive and at worst archaic and nauseating.

If the motive is to punish government, for whatever sins on the political front, the MPs will one day wake up to realize that actually they were punishing the people they represent. This is abuse of the trust constituents have in the MPs.

It is our belief that our MPs have grown so big and become so arrogant because they are not answerable to the electorate. This reminds us about the calls for the return of the recall provision, which will empower the electorate to remove an MP who forgets his or her constituents by serving other alien interests.

It is surprising that our divided House demonstrates a rare unity when it comes to dismissing these calls, arguing recall provision could be abused and be used to victimise innocent MPs. And yet the MPs themselves are abusing their roles by engaging in political fights at the expense of issues that are core to the lives of Malawians, presently wallowing in poverty, hunger and disease.

Imagine the child play that characterise our honourable House with unprecedented number of unnecessary adjournments. Does this smack of serious people intent to see their country moving away from the abyss of underdevelopment to the summit of prosperity? We ought to be more serious.

It pains us taxpayers to see MPs getting a full day’s sitting allowance when they only spend minutes in the House, not talking of the trivia that eats much of their time when they choose to be there.

With the tragic incidents of the last sitting of Parliament, we expected sober deliberations this time around but it seems most of our representatives in the House are yet to realise why they are there. The best thing to do now is to have the recall provision, which will check against dead wood.

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