Leader of Opposition John Tembo on Monday told Parliament Malawi is in a state of disaster and has all the ingredients of a failed State.
And deputy leader of UDF in the House Atupele Muluzi, also responding to President Bingu wa MutharikaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Friday opening address, said the presidential statement did not inspire confidence among Malawians.
Tembo said MutharikaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s speech failed to inspire hope in MalawiansÃ¢â‚¬â€that crises such as forex and fuel shortages would soon be over.
“At this point in our history, Malawians are in great need of words of hope from the leadership of this country. I want to submit that the speech which we listened to on Friday did not inspire hope,” said the MCP president to loud cheers from opposition benches.
He argued MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s democracy is at its lowest point, which culminated in the July 20 2011 anti-government demonstrations. Tembo cited police brutality, threats to press freedom, enactment of bad laws and attacks on civil society leaders as some examples of the decline.
Tembo said MCP will also oppose any proposed legislation by Mutharika to regulate civil society organisations, saying the President should stop blaming innocent outsiders for problems created by governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reluctance and inability to practise good governance, citing the bad relations with donors and some of MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s neighbours.
Said Tembo: “The question which all of us must ask ourselves is whether this government still enjoys the sustained trust of the people of Malawi.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The opposition leader said the prolonged strike by Judiciary support staff indicates governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s failure to put in place solutions to such a challenge. He also said the country is having a huge discontented public serviceÃ¢â‚¬â€a situation which he said can explode any time.
Tembo criticised MutharikaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plea to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to give him three more years (to devalue the kwacha), likening the request to a patient on a hospital bed asking a doctor not to take medication for three months to see whether his/her condition can improve on its own.
Muluzi said the economic impact of the crises will be disastrous to a fragile economy such as MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, arguing Malawians are highly taxed, resulting in companies folding up within the last few months.
Said Muluzi: “Experts estimate that 18 000 jobs have been lost. In fact, on the devaluation, it has already been effected with the dollar fetching as a high as K300 on the parallel market. We hope this Parliament will pass legislation that reflects aspirations of Malawians.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Muluzi also called for immediate enactment of the Access to Information Act, an end to the ongoing Judiciary strike and discussion of the road map towards the 2014 general electionsÃ¢â‚¬â€especially as the country will host tripartite elections for the first time.
On challenges facing the country, Atupele said UDF are heeding the call by Mutharika to offer solutions, saying there is a need to take a new direction by mending fences with the opposition, civil society and donors.
“Getting Malawians to work must be a central goal of Malawians. We must create wealth, people-centred policies that would result in gainful employment,” said Muluzi.
Debate on the PresidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s speech was started by Salima Central MP Benjamin Mangira and seconded by Zomba Chingale MP Lonnie Chijere Chirwa, both of whom hailed Mutharika for presenting a speech they argued reflects the real state of Malawi.