Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators are split over the party’s handling of the controversial K4 billion that Treasury has allocated to all the 193 members of Parliament (MPs) to facilitate development in their areas.
An internal correspondence among the legislators through WhatsApp chat, which The Nation has seen and verified its authenticity, some of the MPs accuse the party’s leadership of mismanaging the whole issue.
The conversation came up in the wake of MCP’s reversal in the week not to be among beneficiaries of the funds.
In his contribution, MCP spokesperson on legal matters in Parliament questioned the party’s decision to stop its MPs from receiving the money alongside their counterparts.
He said: “Are we going to change the appropriation law which was passed? The law was passed in Parliament regarding the allocations to vote 120 Ministry of Local Government [and Rural Development] when we approved Bill no.7 of 2018.
“Outside Parliament, we can’t do anything because we have already allowed the Minister of Finance to spend these resources going by what Public Finance Management Act says. Mutiyalutsa nazotu izi [you will embarrass us], MCP is a big party.”
Initially, the allocation was for 86 constituencies, but following revelations and subsequent uproar on the matter, Gondwe reversed the decision to cover all the 193 constituencies.
MCP deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka told The Nation on Tuesday that the party does not want to be party to the mess associated with the K4 billion funds that Parliament, including MCP, allowed the Minister of Finance to distribute equally.
In the leaked conversation, Kasungu South East MP Khumbize Chiponda Kandodo welcomed the news of pulling out as good, but later changed her position, saying the party needed to put its house in order.
She wrote: “It seems all MPs have been taken by surprise, we need to manage this quickly.”
In an interview, yesterday Thyolera, who is also chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, said the said conversation existed, but accused the “spy” who leaked the chat of having ulterior motives.
He said every organisation or party has a forum where it discusses things and the issue of K4 billion was part of the conversations in their forum.
Said Thyolera: “The conversation happened even though some messages have been edited. We don’t know who leaked it to the public, but such things are normal in every organisation.”
In the chat, the members called for a quick damage-control mechanism in the party or have proper communication channels by electing spokesperson for various portfolios to avoid confusion.
Since the party suspended its spokesperson Jessie Kabwila, the deputy secretary general has been speaking on its behalf.
But when contacted to comment on the matter yesterday, Mkaka promised to call back later. However, he never picked calls from 1pm until we went to press.
Dedza East MP Juliana Lunguzi is quoted in the conversation as having said the party needed a domain spokesperson on the issue whether their shadow minister of finance or the party’s chief whip in Parliament, recalling that during 2004-2009 the party had three spokespersons for different portfolios—one for party matters, another for Parliament issues and a general spokesperson.
Political analysts have since said what happened was something that the MPs never expected.
On the other hand, the analysts have said it would be difficult to change things unless a special amendment is made to the earlier decision made by the MPs in the House.
Mzuzu-based commentator Emily Mkamanga said it seems the opposition MPs were caught off guard; hence, the reaction which is bringing division among them.
She said: “Most MPs wanted to know the source of money, they were caught off guard and that is why there is still confusion even after parliament passed it.”
Chancellor College political scientist Frank Mpesi said if MCP wanted to pull out of the fund it needed to move a motion in Parliament to amend the law that was enacted to allow the Minister of Finance to distribute the money through the National Local Government Finance Committee.