President Peter Mutharika has warned newly-elected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) national governing council (NGC) members against taking advantage of their positions to demand contracts in public institutions.
The President was speaking at Comesa Hall in Blantyre yesterday at the close of DPP’s three-day elective national convention where he was also endorsed as the party’s torchbearer in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Mutharika also lambasted the NGC members for holding positions for their own benefit instead of developing the party, saying he knows some who use their positions to demand contracts from companies.
“That is what some of you do. I want that to stop. Be responsible and do your work. Do not use your position in the party to go out there and get contracts on behalf of the DPP. That must stop, I do not want that to happen,” he warned.
The DPP leader also said the party would in the next few days organise a retreat for the NGC members to remind them of their roles and responsibilities in the council as well as the party.
Mutharika’s censure comes barely three weeks after one of the country’s key utilities, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), admitted the prevalence of serious misprocurement that have threatened to bring down the power sector.
Escom board chairperson Thom Mpinganjira told the media in Blantyre early this month, the board had ordered a forensic investigation into disregard of procurement rules and regulations at the State firm in the recent past.
But reacting to Mutharika’s warning, governance expert Rafiq Hajat cast doubts on the practicality of the statement, saying this has been an issue of discussion for decades with no tangible outcome.
He observed the problem starts with appointment of party loyalists to parastatal boards, a development he said will always allow ruling parties’ members to use their influence.
Hajat argued that the method of appointing board members ought to change by making it transparent, inclusive and merit based.
He said: “What we really need is legislation which prevents political party loyalists to profiteer from awarding of contracts which they are not really qualified for… We need a strong framework to prevent such abuses. At the moment, just saying that elected bearers should not take advantage of positions is wishful thinking and rhetoric.”
On his part, University of Livingstonia political scientist George Phiri said Mutharika’s warning must not only apply to elected NGC members, but also those in government.
He said it was important for Mutharika to warn them because people have the tendency of taking advantage of their positions in ruling parties to abuse State resources.
Phiri further said government must also practically enforce policies that will help stamp out interference from politicians in public institutions.
During the closing ceremony, joy was the prevalent mood as majority of the delegates danced alongside some of the winners.
Just like the other two days, security was also tight with over 100 police officers present both inside and outside the hall. Throughout the three days, no cases of violence were registered.
The national convention that drew together over 1 600 delegates from across the country, saw some party heavyweights failing to win or defend their positions.