Class of 2014 under scrutiny

 

The last but one meeting of members of Parliament elected in 2014 begins next week on Monday. Our reporter AYAMI MKWANDA engages Chancellor College based political analyst Joseph Chunga on burning issues.

Chunga: Nothing to write home about

Q

How would you describe the previous meetings of 2018?

A

: Nothing new to write home about. Generally, 2018 meetings were business as usual. We had a usual budget meeting; hence, was characterised by regular shortfalls chief of which is failure by Parliament to hold the Executive accountable for the allocations it made in the previous budget. This is why some projects are funded annually, but they don’t take off on the ground. I would love our Parliament to spend enough time to scrutinise the execution of previous years’ budget before passing a new one. I would also add that blind partisan loyalty still dominates how our parliamentarians transact their business on the floor. It is the parties speaking not constituents. Worst of all, there is clear lack of seriousness demonstrated by high levels of absenteeism.

Q

:Talking about absenteeism, during the previous

 

meeting of Parliament we counted about 80 MPs absent (out of 193) in a day. What are the costs of this tendency our country?

A

: This is a very serious problem. When MPs are absent, they deprive their constituents representation in the House. We have a House of 193 MPs for a purpose. We expect that they will take collective decisions on behalf of Malawians. Bills passed by only a few MPs lack the much-needed scrutiny. This is a disservice to the nation.

 

Q

: Has this cohort of legislators served the interests of Malawians thus far?

A

: As I have already pointed out, there are areas to improve. The case of K4 billion is a typical case demonstrating the failure of our MPs to uphold national interests over their own and stand for principles.

 

Q

: What is your take on calls by some civil society organisations who want Parliament to impeach Vice-President Saulos Chilima for ‘receiving pay without work’.

A

: Talk of impeachment in itself should not be a taboo. There is no problem that someone is talking about it. It is an important element of our Constitution. However, we know the conditions for impeachment stipulated by the Constitution. If they think the Vice-President has committed such violations warranting impeachment, let them go ahead. If he has not, it will obviously fail.

 

Q

: Some MPs from the governing party Patricia Kaliati, Noel Masangwi, Bon Kalindo and Allan Ngumuya—have joined UTM. Are you expecting any drama in Parliament apart from changes in sitting arrangement?

A

: The political environment is obviously tensing up as we draw closer to May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections. So you may expect a few cases of people losing their heads. This will not be strange. It happens in many parliaments around the world.

 

Q

: Can deliberations in Malawi Parliament match other parliaments in the region?

A

: Much as I am critical of our Parliament, I think we are getting better, especially regarding the role of committees. So, I am optimistic. But we are obviously far behind the likes of South Africa in the region. Our greatest weakness is lack of substance in deliberations on the floor. Most MPs do not seriously prepare. In most cases, they need to solicit technical advice and input to make informed contributions, which they do not. Most of their contributions are not evidence-based.

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