Leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera fell short of saying President Peter Mutharika was not telling the truth, but instead described his State of the Nation Address (Sona) as self-contradictory and full of delusions.
In another biting response to the Sona the President delivered in Parliament on Friday, Chakwera on Monday described failure by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to translate policy documents into meaningful developments as cheating Malawians who believed the government would deliver on its promises.
He observed that the theme of the Sona, Harnessing Economic Gains for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development, gave the impression that apart from gains, there would be a plan for harnessing them. He said Malawians waited in vain.
“President Mutharika’s address had all the hallmarks of a man who has mastered the art of self-delusion and self-contradiction,” said Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president.
He further described party hand-clappers as “isolated and partisan bubble of useless and hand-clapping sycophants”.
In his response, Chakwera was particularly irked by Mutharika’s statement that his administration had achieved in three years what no government—MCP (31 years), United Democratic Front (UDF) in 10 years, DPP under Bingu wa Mutharika (eight years) and People’s Party (PP) in two years—had achieved in 50 years.
He reminded the House that the same President had acknowledged that things were not going well.
Said Chakwera: “Malawians are right to be disappointed by his three years in office thus far, and there is no reason to believe that he will do in 12 months what he has failed to do in 36 [months].”
He accused the DPP administration of turning a blind eye to corruption and incompetence, giving examples of the maize procurement saga and the Lilongwe Water Project contract.
Said Chakwera: “Let us here heed President Mutharika’s warning and restrain ourselves from saying that ‘there is nothing happening’ in this country under his leadership. After all, nepotism, cronyism, kleptocracy, substandard projects, predatory taxation, political intimidation, and public misinformation are all happening in abundance under his supervision.”
The Leader of Opposition said writing and reviewing of policies, strategies and developing a Bill could not count as government achievements.
He said: “Are we expected to cheer at the suggestion that Malawians’ living standards will improve because the professor wrote and reviewed a document?”
Chakwera watered down the success of lowering inflation rate, describing it as a result of God’s mercy in providing adequate rains.
Even the stability of the kwacha and the foreign exchange reserves did not impress Chakwera who thought it was a result of low demand for forex from local businesses whose industries have slowed down.
He said instead of patting himself on the back, Mutharika should have taken advantage of the budget meeting, his last before the elections budget of 2018/19, to carry out his promises.
“For reasons known to himself, he has chosen not to do so. He has chosen to forget the promises he made to Malawians in his own manifesto, the promises he made to his own running mate that his experience in the private sector would be utilised to revamp the civil service, and the promises he has made before this house for the past three years,” Chakwera said.
He asked the government to get rid of ‘dead wood’ in parastatals to improve revenue collection; open Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi and act on good governance, an effort he described as disastrous, half-hearted and a mere smokescreen.
On his part, leader of PP in Parliament, Uladi Mussa, used his response slot to the Sona to attack what he perceived as government persecution of opposition political parties through physical and prosecutorial intimidation.
His own arrest on fraud charges at Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, the arrest of MCP officials last year as well as Rumphi East MP Kamlepo Kalua who is facing tax evasion charges were examples.