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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Parliament makes history
by Andekuche D. Samalani Chanthunya, 04 August 2006 - 06:02:17

The tension that has been existing in Parliament reveals two things. The first is that our Parliament is a circus full of boring clowns. The second or perhaps most important is the absence of sensible policies.
It is the second revelation that has led to the halt of the development process in our nation. Parliamentarians remain too loyal to their leaders and political parties and in the absence of concrete policies one is only left to wonder if at all this Parliament will achieve anything in its five-year term.
In the three years so far, this Parliament has threatened to shoot down three budgets; has had more than three near punch-ups; has been prematurely adjourned more than 20 times; has rejected a Police Inspector General.
This Parliament has had chaos leading to the death of its Speaker; it has stopped or attempted to stop the implementation of the Malawi Rural Development Fund; denied giving government the access to a multi-million kwacha grant; recently rejecting several budget allocations; it has spent millions of taxpayers’ money discussing impeachment, Maybach, Section 65 etc and has seen the largest number of defections.
Parliament is made up of politicians and politics is about creating opportunities for fellow citizens, politics is about solving problems and helping those most in need. Politics is about new ideas of a country’s direction.
Politics and policy are inseparable. Unfortunately, only politics of obliteration exists in this Parliament. This renders this Parliament the most ineffective ever in Malawi. Even the one-party state Parliament, though rubber-stamping government’s policies still got things done.
Malawi seems to have come to a democratic deficit where Parliament has separated itself from policy formulation (since the parties lack policies) consequently leading to the detachment of Parliament and the common individuals who fund it.
The trouble perhaps is the lack of seriousness on the part of those in the circle. Policy statements from government or the President’s speeches are commented on by members of the civil society who only got to know of the issue through press reports; a UDF publicist who neither listened nor read the statement; an MCP spokesperson with totally no idea of the policies background.
All these interviewed and then reported by a journalist who does not understand the policy or statement in the first place. Then there is the political scientist who jumps at every opportunity for publicity ignoring the importance of research and all this gets to the ignorant man in love with political gossip. In the end, we are all losers.
The most painful thing is that MPs are doing all this at the expense of the taxpayer whom if given a choice would have spent that money wisely, perhaps in educating their children or maintaining the health of their parents in the village.
A parliament that fights 50 percent of its life and is half-empty in the remaining 50 percent is definitely not what Malawi needs at this point.
It is for this reason that many people—the hard working people who walk to Capital Hill every morning; those who spend the sunny days running for passing vehicles at Tsangano; those who cross rivers by jumping from one stone to the other; the people who work in their fields daily; the boys and girls who unfortunately go to school on an empty stomach everyday not forgetting the students who fail to do their best because they lack enough resources; the majority of these support President Bingu wa Mutharika and his government over the denial to raise salaries of MPs.
I loathe blaming education qualifications of MPs for I know many people with less or no education at all have achieved great political status the world over.
But if one votes against the budget allocation of funds to the Ministry of Information because they fear that public broadcasters—whom every now and again broadcast against them—will benefit from the funds, I fail to find any reasonable ground than lack of intellectual force behind their reasoning abilities.
What the MPs need to know is that, when the people’s turn to vote comes they will know who stood by them. Thirteen million people cannot be deprived a chance to a better life just because a few selfish individuals wish to live better themselves.

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