The opposition is behaving immorally
BY The Daily Times
09:01:28 - 25 July 2007
For the second time in three weeks, opposition Members of Parliament Tuesday refused to discuss the 2007/2008 national budget insisting that the House should first discuss issues of Section 65.
We want to tell the opposition MPs that this is being impervious to the plight, needs and aspirations of the very people they represent. In short, the opposition are behaving immorally and they will pay dearly for trying to torture the people.
Just to fill you in, some 83 MPs voted against the national assembly discussing the budget against 71 who wanted the budget discussed before Section 65 issues.
Leader of the House Henry Chimunthu Banda said at the end of the headcount voting that the result meant there was nothing to discuss in the House since the meeting was a budget one.
There being nothing to discuss, Second Deputy Speaker Jones Chingola rightly adjourned the House indefinitely.
To start with, the failure to discuss the budget means that in theory government, which was only given K12 billion to spend for one month, will have no money to spend beyond 31 July, 2007.
But in practice, government will continue to run and the opposition has only painted a bad name for itself.
The development has left government no choice but to invoke its constitutional mandate to allocate money to spend for four months. This is the most logical course of action for government to pursue for the reason that it has a duty to continue to run and provide services to the people. It is actually obscene for the opposition to think they can bring down government for the selfish reasons we have spelt out several times before.
The Constitution gives the Finance Minister authority to spend in advance of appropriation.
The relevant section of the Constitution reads: “The National Assembly may make provision under which, if it appears to the Minister responsible for Finance that the Appropriation Act in respect of any financial year, will not come into operation by the beginning of that financial year, he or she may authorize the withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of moneys for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government until the expiration of four months from the beginning of that financial year or the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act, whichever is earlier.”
But by prioritizing Section 65 issues at the expense of the budget, the opposition have exposed themselves to the wrath of the 13 millions Malawians who have nothing to benefit from the section 65 issues.
People across the country have already bared their chests on the matter. This is that the opposition should set their priorities right and allow Parliament to discuss and pass the budget.
Members of the general public, chiefs, the faith community and the clergy, to mention just a few, have all pointed out the need for the opposition to see the writing on the wall and to do first things first. But all this seems to have fallen on the deaf ears. The question is: which constituents are the opposition MPs representing when they are in the House?
In fact, many people have spoken clearly and loudly that both the budget and Section 65 issues should be discussed. So just what is the problem with our opposition MPs?
We also question MPs such as former Vice President Justin Malewezi for abstaining. Why?
While people have the constitutional right to abstain, we are of the view that leaders like Malewezi and PPM vice president Mark Katsonga appreciate the plight of the beneficiaries of the budget better than most MPs. The two should, therefore, not have stood on the fence fearing a backlash from the opposition or the government side if they voted either way. Abstaining will not spare them the backlash from the people because in a vote like the one the House conducted yesterday, abstaining has the same effect as a no vote.