Malawi’s most prominent and ndefatigable human rights and social change activist, who also doubles as our leader of delegation, the Genuine Prof Dr. Joyce Befu, MEGA-1 has directed us to ask every Malawian to individually remind our members of Parliament (MPs) to urgently do what they were sent to parliament for: making and unmaking laws, and providing oversight on national financial resource expenditure.
This time we are asking our MPs to debate and pass the law guaranteeing every Malawian food and nutrition security. And our MPs are not like the MPs in some countries who prioritise lining their pockets over the demands of their electors. Trust us, our MPs have us, their people, at heart. When we ask, they respond. Don’t they? When we demand, they hearken. Don’t they? When we hurt, they commiserate. We are a blessed lot. Aren’t we?
We, Malawians, are also lucky to have a serious and hardworking cabinet that always has us as a priority. Our cabinet is not like cabinets of other countries that table bills favouring the rich while ignoring those bills that improve the health status of their people. We are a blessed lot. Aren’t we?
The Genuine Prof and MEGA-1 has asked us to humbly ask the Cabinet to work prioritise the tabling of the Food and Nutrition Bill in Parliament during the current sitting. And our cabinet will because it listen to us. We are extremely blessed to have such a listening Cabinet.
The Food and Nutrition Security Bill has been in draft form since 2003. Yes, we have been waiting for the tabling of this Bill for 18 years. A child born in 2003 is today legally old enough to vote, to marry, to found a family, and, of course, to commit a crime for which he or she can be jailed without expecting the intervention of child rights civil society.
But we are Malawians. We are patient. We are persevering. We are indomitable. We are ‘undissappointable’. We don’t forget. Ask former president Bakili Muluzi. We know, as the famous King of Jerusalem keeps reminding us in Ecclesiastics, there is always time for everything that we see in the world. And this time is for the Food and Nutrition Security Bill to be passed.
The great Malawian poet, Felix Mnthali, sang forty five years ago, that there is nothing more satisfying and pleasing than something whose time has come.
Even the civil society coalitions and networks that recently formed a grand coalition to remind our MPs about the need to table and pass the said food and nutrition security bill know that the time has come for the bill to be passed to obligate our delivering government to ensure that food in acceptable quantities and quality is available to all Malawians.
No president, Cabinet minister or legislator would shoot down a Bill that assures his constituents of food and nutrition security. Which MP can be thus callous? Pangali.
No MP would be pleased to hear that one third of Malawi’s under-five children, tomorrow’s leaders and criminals, are critically malnourished. Which MP would take pleasure in shooting down a bill that ensures Malawi’s children adequate nutrition food? Palibe.
Which MP would be pleased to hear that malnutrition affects brain development and impacts educational achievement of children? Which one? Palivi.
Which MP would be pleased to hear that one study showed that in 2012 Malawi lost 10.4 percent of its GDP due to poor nutrition? Ali kwani?
We are confident that in Parliament, the MPs will be waiting for the Cabinet to table the bill and once passed, Parliament will send it to the President for his golden signature. Without presidential assent, a bill remains a bill, words on a piece of paper that you can flush down a public toilet. It is the law when the President signs the bill.
The words sound light, “I assent” but they are powerful and magical. The way President Lazarus Chakwera loves and works hard for Malawians, would you expect him not to assent to an innocent, human rights assuring Bill, Parliament has genuinely debated and passed? Nde Chakwera simukumudziwa.