Malawi’s Civil society organisations (CSOs) have said it is sinful for Cabinet ministers to get hundreds of litres of fuel every month when everybody is suffering because of the austerity budget.
A full Cabinet minister receives 1 000 litres of fuel per month, while a deputy minister gets 750 litres.
For 23 full ministers and 11 deputy ministers, this translates into K22 million (about $56 410) in fuel allowances that Malawi Government spends every month.
In the unlikely event that fuel prices remain the same in 2013, by December, government will have spent K264 million (about $676 923) on fuel for ministers.
Speaking at a press conference in Lilongwe on Friday, national coordinator for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Chris Chisoni, said only Cabinet ministers are enjoying public resources at the expense of the majority poor who are suffering from the economic reforms government is implementing.
“It is sinful for ministers to have 1 000 litres of fuel as if they are going to drive their vehicles to Cairo [in Egypt]. It is sinful for only a few people to share resources among themselves.
“Is it justifiable to sacrifice the welfare of everybody for the sake of just a few people in the Cabinet? We are calling on government to put some measures on this. The Executive must suffer with the people,” said Chisoni.
He said the resources ministers are “wasting” could be used to address many problems the country is facing such as shortages of drugs in hospitals.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director Martha Kwataine said public confidence in national leadership structures continues to dwindle because of inconsistencies in implementation of government’s austerity measures.
“Civil society, for example, does not find correlation between the purported austerity measures and the recent visit by the President to Equatorial Guinea. Civil society understands that the inability for national leadership to demonstrate effective practice of the austerity measures provoked civil servants’ [wage] demands,” said Kwataine.
Another activist Billy Mayaya said government needs to brief Malawians on the budget for 2014 tripartite elections and financial implications of holding the elections.
Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu recently said the Joyce Banda administration is working hard to alleviate people’s suffering and achieve economic growth.
Kunkuyu said government has been addressing some of the concerns raised by CSOs.