President Lazarus Chakwera on Thursday went to Parliament to respond to questions relating to the State of the Nation Address (Sona) he delivered in the august House on September 4 in compliance with Section 89 (3) of the Constitution. Chakwera is the second Head of State in the country after Bakili Muluzi to appear before Parliament to answer questions since 1994. Apart from clarifying several issues that had been raised during debate of the Sona,
You said you have identified an investor to construct houses for members of Parliament. Who is this investor and how much will this [project] cost?
What I said is an expression of intent and the processes that are needful to do due diligence will be followed for identification of such. I have no one [investor] in mind except to say that this is something that needs to be looked into.
About two weeks ago, the Attorney General wrote the Office of President and Cabinet on the risks of terminating contracts, transferring and seconding some civil/public officers to other officers. Will the [you] respect this advice in line with the law?
I can assure you that no prejudice has been suffered by those transferred; on the same grade and no loss of salary at all. MPSR [Malawi Public Service Regulations] operationalises the constitutional requirements vis-à-vis the transfer of public servants or civil servants. These are administrative issues that take place on time to time in all the civil service.
Those whose contracts have been terminated if any, will be heard; will receive letters for reasons of termination because they are always given. Nothing is done arbitrarily. I can assure you, that once they read documents purportedly coming from the Attorney General with respect to these things, let those issues be handled administratively and it has nothing to do with them because of this; the President cannot be asking do you respect the Attorney General’s advice. We are coming from an era in which the AG has been used politically to give advice contrary to what the laws of this nation state. But nowhere has any of what the AG said been breached by what happened in my office.
You have phased out the Farm Input Subsidy [Fisp] and introduced affordable input programme [AIP] but what mechanisms have you put in place to check unscrupulous traders—who instead of giving inputs to farmers give money which defeats the purpose of such programmes?
Let me just state that national identity cards will be used…everything will be done in the open. Stakeholders such as police, intelligence are also involved in this. Any corrupt practice will not be entertained at all. And I want to reassure the nation that this thing will be done in such a way that even those who have complaints and if it is linked to something unscrupulous as it has been stated used to happen, then they will have to face the law. We will not entertain any shenanigans in this program when Malawians have suffered for so long.
Those that are being arrested for being suspected to have stolen from government coffers, what does government intend to do to ensure that stolen resources are recovered and there is proper restitution?
Since [you] mentioned about cases that are in court, I will not say much except to say that let the law take its course.
On the issue of Malawi Electoral Commission [MEC] commissioners, I am aware you met them on August 20 and they complained to you [that they have not received their appointment letters]… would you please clarify on this matter involving the status of these commissioners?
Let me say this. There [are] two things because I am volunteering information now and I want to take you seriously. The courts said Parliament should look at commissioners’ performance vis-à-vis last year’s elections, and Parliament found them incompetent. The matter was referred to, by way of appeal, the Supreme Court which almost blatantly, that the commissioners were incompetent. Thirdly, when the law in this House passed, stating how a President should appoint commissioners, it was clear that those parties that had qualified needed to submit three names—that was never done. Now as an affected person I told commissioners that the issue is with the right people. Let issues be done according to law and when this issue comes to me as an appointing authority I can deal with it. But not at that stage. I am glad you said your commissioners have not received appointment letters. That’s what I can tell you as of now.