The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has asked authorities to convene Parliament by March 10 this year to discuss several sticky issues, including the forensic audit report into the plunder of public funds at Capital Hill widely known as cashgate.
In its communiqué after a two-day Third All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference held at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre on Tuesday and Wednesday this week under the theme ‘Malawi at crossroads: Enhancing transformative leadership through holding leaders and ourselves accountable’, PAC has pointed out a number of issues Parliament needs to seriously consider.
Among the issues, PAC said, are a full forensic audit report on the looting of public resources, banning of distribution of handouts for political gains, loss of maize in the country’s grain reserves and the sale of presidential jet and the management of the proceeds from the sale.
PAC also wants the Speaker of Parliament to be given powers to engage private lawyers on Section 65 which declares vacant seats of members of Parliament (MPs) that leave political parties that sponsored them into the House.
“Delegates demanded that the office of the Attorney General should authorise the office of the Speaker [of Parliament] to engage a private lawyer[s] to expedite cases related to Section 65,” reads the communiqué signed by PAC chairperson the Reverend Dr Felix Chingota and publicity secretary Father Peter Mulomole.
On cashgate, the multi-faith grouping demanded that the forensic audit report should include names of those involved in the looting of government resources.
“Top officials from public and private sectors involved in the looting of government funds must be treated equally rather than applying the rule of law selectively. All holders of offices implicated in the current forensic audit should be interdicted pending investigations,” said the communique.
PAC has also suggested long-term plans to government which included the amendment of Section 65 and reinstatement of Section 64 which empowers constituents to recall a non-perfoming MP; criminalisation of handouts and enactment of the law regulating political party funding and their conduct.
On Wednesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume was against the idea of calling for Parliament because, among other things, the World Bank had not finalised discussing funding to Malawi which was part of the 2013-2014 budget.
PAC also said that although there were some positive things about Malawi in the past 50 years of independence, the period has generally been a net loss.
“PAC, therefore, calls upon all Malawians to vote for people with transformative leadership qualities and a developmental agenda in the forthcoming Tripartite Elections,” it said.