The Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) is today petitioning Parliament—currently transacting the 2013/14 National Budget business in Lilongwe—on issues it feels President Joyce Banda’s administration has failed to address after petitioning it on January 17 this year.
Cama, in a petition The Nation has seen, is requesting the august House—as an independent arm of government—to debate the issues and come up with modalities on how they can be implemented for the benefit of Malawians they represent.
But Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu—who is government spokesperson—said Malawians are the best judges because government is addressing most issues Cama raised.
Kunkuyu said it is surprising that Cama never mentioned of going to engage government again, but here it is, engaging an arm of government.
The government spokesperson said: “Let’s see how far they will go about it. Those issues will still come to government. Cama knows the best forum to discuss these issues, but if they feel that that is the proper way, let them go ahead.”
Cama executive director John Kapito, in an interview on Tuesday, said the consumer body is arguing the Executive has dragged its feet on issues the consumers raised despite assurances from a government negotiating team to address the matters.
The petition, dated April 29 2013, cites government’s failure to address challenges that followed due to the devaluation and floatation of the Malawi kwacha, and these challenges include the high cost of living; depletion of incomes and salaries; high unemployment; high inflation rates and high cost of base lending rates by the country’s commercial banks.
Cama argues consumers are of the view that there are other alternatives, which are a bit friendlier economic reforms that the government could have used other than floating the currency and leaving the poor masses to suffer the consequences emanating there from.
The consumers body says internal and external travels by the President have continued despite assurances from the government negotiating team that there would be significant reduction on the travels.
The petition to Parliament reads, in part: “But to the surprise of the consumers, there is nothing that has been done todate despite the fact that the country is in a mess economically.
“Instead of minimising these travels, the President has continuously travelled to places and functions that could have been handled by either a minister or a member of Parliament.”
The consumers body claims the government negotiating team has overtly refused and/or rejected the call by consumers for the top officials to declare their assets for purposes of transparency and accountability.
Reads the petition: “Consumers are of the view that if the President and her [deputy] declare their assets, the rest of the members of her Cabinet and those in the public and civil service will follow suit.
“Corruption is one of the major challenges that consumers in Malawi are subjected and forced to pay for higher prices on goods and services.”
The petition also tackles the bloated Cabinet, the sale of ministerial Mercedes Benz cars and low salaries for the civil servants.
—Read Cama petition HERE