Before its face-off with civil society organisations (CSOs) which are demanding a refund of donations from public agencies is resolved, governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is embroiled in another case of abuse of public resources.
This time, DPP on Friday took a Hino truck belonging to Nkhotakota District Hospital to ferry its members to and from Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe to see off President Peter Mutharika to the United States of America to attend the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
While confirming that the vehicle undertook the errand, Nkhotakota District Hospital public relations officer Samson Mfuyeni justified the action, saying there was nothing wrong because the vehicle belongs to the hospital and not government.
He said: “Hospital staff bought the lorry in question. It is not a government vehicle.”
But The Nation established that contrary to Mfuyeni’s assertions, the vehicle, registration MG 697AJ, belongs to the Ministry of Health (MoH).
An officer at Plant and Vehicle Hire Organisation (PVHO)—an institution under the Ministry of Transport and Public Works that manages government fleet—told The Nation that the vehicle is under MoH and is currently assigned to Nkhotakota District Hospital.
DPP secretary general Greselder Jeffery, who is also member of Parliament (MP) for Nkhotakota South, said in an interview yesterday that the vehicle was not on a political errand.
She said: “Komatu abale ndalezi zafika pena! [I think we are going too far with politics]. That is not true. Does it mean people should not be wearing DPP colours when they are in government vehicles?
“Do you know people are wearing DPP colours at almost all events? Just know that it is wrong to say we used the hospital vehicle for a party function. If you saw our people in that vehicle, maybe they were going to a funeral.”
Nkhotakota Central MP Peter Mazizi (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) claimed that on the day, four people were left stranded at the hospital while the institution’s vehicle runs DPP errands.
He said: “The stranded people called me for assistance. You know I am the MP for the area. I had to help them with transport when our lorry was away for a party function. We are tired of this.”
Political commentator Mustafa Hussein said the DPP was wrong and urged the party to stop using public resources for partisan interests.
Currently, DPP is facing pressure from CSOs to refund K13 million donated by some State agencies to its Blue Night fundraising dinner held on July 29 this year at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where Mutharika was the guest of honour.
When some CSOs condemned DPP’s collection of funds from the State agencies— including cash-strapped councils such as Mzuzu—Jeffery branded the criticisms as zachamba (hemp-induced statements), words that angered the CSOs.
She later apologised for the uncouth language and engaged the CSOs in a dialogue that has since collapsed.
Public hospitals nationwide are facing critical shortages of resources, including drugs, vehicles and fuel.