Speaker ouster plot dismissed

Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa on Wednesday dispelled fears that the government side was plotting to impeach Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara.

Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, gave the assurance in his statement delivered in Parliament Wednesday afternoon to clarify concerns about the leakage of his letter and tone accusing the Speaker of bias.

Safe: Hara

In his letter dated October 7 2019, he accused the Speaker of being biased against the government side each time there were cases of misconduct.

Nankhumwa said: “The Business Committee met on the letter I wrote the Speaker… There were concerns that the government side is planning to impeach the Speaker. I assure you that the issue of impeachment does not arise. As DPP [Democratic Progressive Party], we have not discussed that.”

Nankhumwa: The issue does not arise

His letter stirred debate in the House on Tuesday with opposition legislators describing the manner the concern was raised as out of order. There were suggestions that the matter could easily have been resolved through a round-table discussion.

The House proceeded with the Committee of Supply where legislators scrutinise vote by vote allocations to various government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the national budget.

Yesterday, the legislators passed 14 votes out of 25 on the menu.

However, in the course of authorising government to spend, members of Parliament (MPs) raised critical concerns on votes regarding Ministry of Health and Population, Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Prisons Department, among others.

On the Ministry of Health vote, the MPs noted that government has not allocated funds towards fighting or preventing Ebola. They argued that this omission was an indication that Malawi was not doing enough in terms of preparedness for the killer disease.

Further, the legislators highlighted issues on essential and universal health package components, saying that government has not allocated enough funds to the sector as it has not itemised in the budget to procure dialysis machines for other health facilities such as  Mzuzu Central  Hospital.

In her contribution, Lilongwe City South West MP Nancy Tembo said: “We have seen the reduction on the allocation to essential health package from K30 billion to K12 billion. There are a lot of challenges in hospitals and yet there is this reduction. Issues of dialysis machines are still a problem as people travel from Mzuzu to Lilongwe for treatment.

“There is also Ebola scare and yet there no budget for it. How prepared are we since it is not reflected in the budget?”

Regarding the police vote, the MPs raised concerns on the allocation. They mentioned the multibillion kwacha food rations scam the police was rocked in and questioned measures put in place to avoid a repeat of similar frauds.

Lilongwe City Centre MP Alfred Jiya wondered why government has not allocated funds for construction of more prisons considering that that are congested.

He said: “Prisoners are suffering a great deal in cells. I have been there and I know the life they are living. Sleeping space is a problem. Prisoners are sleeping like wild dogs. Why are funds not allocated for constructing more prisons.”

The prisons vote has been allocated K10.1 billion while the Malawi Police Service vote number 341 has been given K54.3 billion and the Ministry of Health got K87.04 billion.

The House is expected to pass the remaining 11 votes today.

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