Members of Parliament (MPs) MUST be serious and discuss issues that advance the welfare of Malawians instead of prioritising their personal interests.
This was the key sentiment Malawians who participated in a Nation on Sunday survey expressed in an assessment of the way MPs have dealt with business in the current sitting of Parliament.
The survey, conducted through face-to-face interviews in 14 districts and via the short message service (SMS), polled 1 014 respondents. Out of the sample, 817 respondents said they were not impressed by the performance of MPs in the current sitting.
However, for some respondents, MPs have done a good job in taking government to task on a number of issues.
The results did not come as a surprise to national coordinator of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Chris Chisoni who said there are many issues that affected the quality of debate in the House.
“One of the issues was government claiming that MPs were demanding allowances up to K10 million. This caused MPs to stop discussing serious business and it created absenteeism…Parliament was not effective,” said Chisoni.
On Friday, there were 47 MPs who did not turn up in the House.
Chisoni said the fact that the order paper kept changing to accommodate government business also watered down the effectiveness of Parliament.
He said parliamentary business should be known about two months before MPs begin sitting to allow for lobbying and consultations.
“Almost all bills passed in Parliament have not seen wide consultations. Parliament needs to provide details in advance and there should be seriousness. They should discuss business that augurs well for the aspirations of Malawians,” said Chisoni.
Studies conducted by Afrobarometer and other researchers in Malawi have consistently revealed people’s dissatisfaction with the performance of MPs. People generally accuse MPs of not consulting on the issues they take to Parliament.
Legislators are also accused of not fulfilling campaign pledges and being available in their constituencies only when it is time for elections.