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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Civil society groups petition Chimango
09:29:20 - 24 July 2007

Speaker of Parliament Louis Chimango Monday received over 20 petitions from civil society groups and some concerned citizens.

Director for Gender Support Programme Cecilia Mussa Monday confirmed in an interview they decided to petition the Speaker so that members of Parliament (MPs) could prioritise the budget and not Section 65.

“Yes, we have mobilised ourselves to rescue our country. We want our MPs to prioritise the budget. There are several of us here in the South, including Mrs Emmie Chanika.

“We are not against Section 65 but what we are saying is that it should come later after the budget has been passed,” she said.

Mussa said it was pathetic to see that most MPs seemed not to care about the welfare of Malawians by putting Section 65 ahead of the national budget.

She also said as a way of clearing the path, her group went to the High Court in Lilongwe to get a court order to allow them to go to Parliament to present the petition.

“Our friends in Lilongwe are coordinating everything. They obtained a court order to make sure that our path is smooth. You can talk to Dan Phiri, he is the one who can give you further details,” said Mussa.

When contacted Phiri, who said he had decided to join the grouping as a concerned citizen, confirmed delivering the petitions himself to Chimango and other leaders of political parties represented in the House.

“We have received over 20 petitions from people across the country. Each petition has over 50 signatories. What we want is to express our dissatisfaction with our MPs through the Speaker,” he said.

Phiri said by taking time to pass the budget, MPs were gambling on the lives of Malawians.

He said people want fertiliser and drugs in hospitals, adding that even Chancellor College students need the same budget to go to college next week.

The civil society groups included Civil Liberties Committee (Cilic) where Chanika is executive director.

But efforts to talk to Chanika were unsuccessful Monday as her phone could not be reached.

Civil society groups told state-run Malawi Television (TVM) on Sunday during the 8 pm news bulletin that they were calling for petitions from various concerned citizens and the general public to petition the Speaker of Parliament.

The groups asked people to leave their petitions at road blocks so that they could be collected from there.

However, this is not the first time for the Speaker to receive petitions from people across the country, especially during budget sessions of Parliament.

In 2005 and 2006, college students, chiefs and other concerned Malawians stormed parliamentary precincts to deliver their petitions to the Speaker to force MPs to pass the budget.

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