Salima North West member of Parliament (MP) Jessie Kabwila (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) says the new K2 000 banknote set to go into circulation from December 19 reflects a crisis of governance and failure by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to tame the run-away inflation.
Kabwila expressed the sentiments through a question to Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe during question time in the National Assembly in Lilongwe on Friday.
In her preamble to the question, Kabwila raised several governance issues prompting several shocked MPs on the government side to attempt to stop her terse contribution by raising several points of order. But First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje ignored the interjections until she finished talking.
But in his responses, a cool-headed Gondwe seemed to provide answers that countered most of the accusations by the Salima North West legislator who later conceded to have found the Minister of Finance’s answers “to be very cogent in many ways”.
Kabwila wondered who decided to introduce the new note and whether the process included consulting stakeholders widely.
She also wondered why founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda, whose portrait is on the K1 000 note, would now be cast as an inferior personality to Reverend John Chilembwe, who fought colonial oppression in the 1915s, and is on the new note.
Finding that Gondwe, at one point, seemed to inadvertently indicate that bigger-denomination notes may be introduced in future, Kabwila purred: “Do you plan to have notes higher than this [K2 000?]. Does it mean that Malawians must brace themselves for a K200 000 note very soon?”
In response, Gondwe said: “Let me look you in the face, as you asked me to do, and I will tell you that we will not stop at K2 000, as a country.
“We will come to a time when your children probably will have a K5 000 note, or probably higher, as far as your grandchildren are concerned.”
The Reserve Bank of Malawi decided to introduce the new note after wide consultations and after also proving that neighbouring nations have even higher-denomination notes in circulation, he added. n