The recent devaluation of the kwacha by 49 percent has increased the number of people living below the poverty line, Mzimba North MP and former Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe has claimed.
Gondwe, who drew a record point of orders from government benches when contributing to President Joyce Bandaâ€™s State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, also touched raw nerves when he said the decision whether to legalise homosexuality should not be done without consulting Malawians.
â€œThe steep devaluation came without any mitigating programmes for the poor. According to the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the country’s real per capita income was around $250 and with the recent devaluation, it has shrank to only $150, meaning more than 60 percent of Malawians are now below the poverty line,” said Gondwe.
He said this was a reversal from what DPP achieved where poverty levels went down to around 39 percent.
But Economic Planning and Development Minister Atupele Muluzi said poverty figures are not very clear in the country and that government had instituted a study to come up with correct figures.
â€˜Tread carefully on homosexualsâ€™
Gondwe started by advising government to tread carefully on the same-sex marriage issue, arguing even in the advanced world, there are very few countries that have legalised such unions.
â€œI am not sure what government is going to say as to whether people can associate as man-to-man or woman-to-woman or go as far as suggesting marriage. I would advise against it as public opinion not only in Malawi, but all over is against it,” he said.
Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa stood on a point of order, asking Gondwe to stop discussing the matter as there was no such bill in the House, but the Mzimba North legislator said he was only providing advice.
When Gondwe attempted to continue on the same-sex marriage issue, leader of the House Henry Phoya said there was no time government wanted to bring such a bill, but it was committed to ensuring a healthy and conducive debate on the matter.
Mangochi South MP Yusuf Matumula said DPP is using the same-sex marriage issue as a ploy to deviate from serious business, yet it was the same administration that pardoned the country’s first open gay couple, Steve Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga.
â€œUntil there is a bill, we cannot be debating on speculation,â€ said Matumula.