Malawi’s Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga and United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi on Tuesday clashed in Parliament over the contents of the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Joyce Banda last Friday.
In his response to the President’s address, Muluzi echoed what leader of opposition John Tembo and leader of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the House George Chaponda said on Monday that the President delivered an uninspiring speech.
Said Atupele: “Her statement contains only wishes and nothing to inspire hopes. The points she has made are things that cannot be implemented at all instead of looking at issues that are vital, urgent and achievable.
His statement met heavy criticism from Lipenga who was visibly displeased with what Atupele said.
Lipenga said it was wrong to describe the President’s address as empty, saying it tackled a number of issues that are of national interest.
“There are important issues in the address that are very important. Look at issues of Economic Recovery Plan [ERP], subsidised farm inputs programme, the Green-Belt Initiative and many other important issues that are in the statement. So, it’s not fair to call it empty,” said Lipenga.
Atupele, who served in Banda’s first all-inclusive Cabinet hired in April last year as Economic Planning and Development minister before his resignation in November, attacked the President’s speech for leaving out issues that directly affect ordinary people and concentrating on policy issues.
“There are issues like management of the public purse, delivery of services and improvement of the enrolment in public universities which is currently at 0.4 percent and lowest as compared to other countries.
“Access to financial services is still poor, public institutions are weak and hence they fail to perform properly and people are not well equipped to be able to hold accountable those managing public funds and high offices. These are some of the issues that should have been addressed in the statement,” said Muluzi.
UDF, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and DPP have now responded to the President’s State of the Nation Address. And in their responses, the three opposition parties have agreed that the speech has left out important issues currently affecting the country.