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Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Monday, April 23, 2007

No, our MPs need good qualifications
BY The Daily Times
09:15:20 - 19 April 2007

Some of the reasoning by some delegates at the on-going national Constitution review conference in Lilongwe leaves a lot to be desired, that is to say the least. It is absurd that in this day and age we cannot appreciate the role of good education for any office, let alone one of a legislator.

The fact that the majority of Malawians are uneducated or illiterate does not mean that we do not have enough well educated people to lead the uneducated through parliamentary representation.

After all, it would not only be in Parliament that the educated would be representing the uneducated. This is happening at almost all levels of representation, be it in churches, schools and even at presidency level although this does not mean that the representative should be the most educated in the group.

To ask for mere speaking and reading of the English language as a qualification of Member of Parliament is trivialising the level of business that goes in the House. It is in Parliament that members scrutinize government bills that are themselves not the stuff of average intelligent people. Actually, we need people with a good understanding of issues in the House to contribute effectively to the business and not mere command of English. There are some children who speak good and read English very well but, as we all know, their level of understanding is below par. The same applies to adults who we want to go to Parliament on the same strength. No wonder deliberations in our National Assembly are mostly chaotic because MPs want to buy time as they have nothing to contribute on national issues that demand high level of understanding and acumen. Lowly educated MPs would rather preoccupy themselves with political bickering that is not even in English to avoid exposing their inefficiencies in real parliamentary business matters.

Using the same argument that we cannot allow the minority educated to rule the majority illiterates, it would also be an insult to let the uneducated, with all their negative attributes rule the educated and knowledgeable. It is sad that at a time when many school leavers with genuine MSCEs are loafing in our societies, we should believe that an MSCE is such a high qualification only a few have it. Actually, an MSCE is a modest qualification for such an important office of the Member of Parliament.

Setting high academic qualifications for the House would help to improve the level of deliberations and add meaning to the importance of Parliament and its business. It is a joke to suggest that anyone with a good command of English is material for MP, surely we can be more serious than this.

Let us be ambitious and allow the academic entry qualification for Parliament to be at a minimum of MSCE. It does not make sense to mix PhD holders with mere speakers and readers of English and expect them to speak the same parliamentary business language. We just can’t afford this mediocrity in the 21st Century.

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