President Lazarus Chakwera’s scheduled address in Parliament today on the impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy will count to nothing if he does not outline a clear recovery plan, opposition legislators have stated.
In an interview yesterday, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa said the President should use the platform to outline short, medium and long-term solutions.
He said besides the devastation caused by the cyclone to at least 54 000 families, the damage has also a direct impact on the country’s economy.
Nankhumwa, who is Mulanje Central legislator, said in this regard, he expects the President to indicate steps to be taken to assist those directly and indirectly affected by the cyclone on their path towards recovery from the shock and losses.
He described the impact of the damage as huge and that it needs to be properly evaluated and quantified.
Said Nankhumwa: “We need a proper and professional analysis. When bridges, roads, hospitals, houses, shops, livestock and people have been washed away, that has an impact on the economy.”
In a separate interview, United Democratic Front (UDF) leader in the House Ned Poya agreed with Nankhumwa, saying Malawians have lost everything and are counting on government to bail them out and rebuild their lives.
The Zomba Ntonya legislator urged government to prioritise social cash transfer programmes in constituencies affected by the cyclone to help the communities return to their normal lives.
He said: “The biggest question every Malawian is now asking is what the way forward is? Is government going to repair some of the old damaged infrastructure or this is the time to build new ones?”
On his part, Mzimba North legislator Yeremiah Chihana (Alliance for Democracy-Aford) said Chakwera should have set up a professional team to handle the aftermath of the storm and also an observer team to provide an oversight on everything to reclaim donor confidence.
He claimed to have written the President to share some of his ideas on how government can move the country forward following the damage.
Chihana said: “There are multiple tools that can be used to precisely estimate the damage caused in multiple dimensions, so that government is able to gauge the sort of interventions required and the level of investment to be made.”
After addressing Parliament today, the President is scheduled to meet former presidents Bakili Muluzi, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on the cyclone’s impact.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs on Monday said the death toll from the cyclone had risen from 438 to 499 with 918 injuries and over 450 others are missing.
The number of displaced people is at 490 098 with 533 camps set up in the 12 affected districts to accommodate them.