Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has said the party regrets remarks that its financial spokesperson in Parliament, Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi made towards people of the Northern Region.
Chakwera said this yesterday, in an interview at Hewe, Rumphi, where he attended a ground-breaking ceremony for a new Catholic Parish.
While responding to the Mid-Term Budget Statement on Monday, Kusamba Dzonzi accused Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe of allocating more water projects in the North, where he said there are ‘just few people’.
The remarks irked members of Parliament from the region and some sectors of society, who accused MCP of promoting nepotism.
In an interview, at Hewe yesterday, Transport Minister Jappie Mhango reiterated sentiments against Kusamba Dzonzi’s remarks, saying they were a confirmation that MCP has not changed.
Mhango, who is also national campaign director for ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said the remarks remind people of the North the atrocities that MCP committed during its 31-year rule.
He further claimed that MCP does not want to see any development in the North, which he said was sad.
However, Chakwera said sometimes people make mistakes, and the best thing is to own up to such mistakes.
He said asking the National Assembly to remove Kusamba Dzonzi’s statement from the Hansard was evidence of remorse on the part of MCP.
“In as far as this particular segment is concerned, from a wonderful response to the Mid-Year Budget response, that particular paragraph has been deleted, it does no longer form part of the official record of Parliament. This is deliberate because we do not want anyone thinking that we are establishing policies that would be divisive or insensitive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the party has reportedly summoned Kusamba Dzonzi over the controversial remarks.
The party’s spokesperson Ezekiel Ching’oma, who is also legislator for Lilongwe Rural East, said in an interview yesterday that the party did not understand how Kusamba Dzonzi sounded tribalistic and regionalistic in his presentation.
Kusamba Dzonzi’s pronouncements forced Chakwera to ask the Speaker to exclude the remarks from the Hansard, saying they were not views of MCP.
Ching’oma said the party would want to hear Kusamba Dzonzi’s side of the story, especially why he expressed views that did not represent MCP, which displeased the party and angered most legislators from the Northern Region.
In yesterday’s interview, Kusamba Dzonzi said he was in agreement with Chakwera who asked the Speaker on Friday that such remarks should not form part of the parliamentary record.
“I did not mention any region, but if others were offended, we are saying sorry. I am in agreement with my president who asked for withdrawal of that particular sentence.
“I am an MP for Dowa West, but when I stand in Parliament to speak as spokesperson for MCP on finance, I do that on behalf of the party and I cannot oppose the stand my party has taken,” he said. He insisted that he was only trying to plead with Gondwe to consider all regions equally, arguing that what mattered was interpretation.
Ironically, Kusamba Dzonzi told Parliament at the onset of his speech that it was being done after wide and open consultations and that it was fully representing the collective wisdom and vision of the MCP.
But Ching’oma said much as such statements to be made in Parliament on behalf of the party are vetted, there are times the presenter throws in a word or two to spice the speech, and what his colleague stated, was one of those.
He said the views put the party into disrepute because it does not believe in regionalism, adding that was why it had to take their president to put the record straight.
“Although he did not mention the region, an inference was made and that was why some MPs that felt offended raised an issue out of that,” Ching’oma said.
He said the party was set to hear Kusamba Dzonzi’s story not later than this week.
The controversial statement was duly taken out of the Hansard.
On the parish project, Chakwera thanked the Catholic Church for helping to develop the country. He said the parish will come along with education and health projects that will help to develop the area. He then donated K1.1 million while Sidik Mia, who was also in attendance, donated K500 000.
Mhango, who said government will continue supporting the Catholic Church in all its endeavours, donated K200 000 and pledged K2 million and announced that President Peter Mutharika will donate K5 million towards the cause.
Meanwhile, Bishop John Ryan of Mzuzu Diocese has said the parish will strive to serve the flock better.
The new parish has been named St Joseph Mukasa, partly in honour of the diocese’s deceased Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza.