When Members of Parliament (MPs) are being elected, they promise to serve people wholeheartedly. This includes representing their constituencies in Parliament where, among other things, national issues are discussed and agreed upon. Therefore, it is surprising that media reports are indicating that some MPs have a habit of absconding parliamentary proceedings without any plausible reasons. Time and again the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya has complained about absenteeism, but to no avail. The MPs might have reasons for ignoring the Speaker’s complaint, but to ordinary Malawians, the most obvious reason is that the MPs have no respect for the voters and all Malawians at large. In fact, it goes without saying that MPs might be silently challenging everyone that they have power in their hands and nothing can happen to them.
Since there is no recall provision in the Constitution, even if people want it reinstated, it will be at the mercy of the MPs, who are likely not to pass it. One can only hope that the ongoing government reforms can suggest some solutions to the recall challenge.
Meanwhile, the ‘we don’t care ‘attitude by the MPs seems to have been extended to the President as well. During the State of the Nation Address (Sona) by President Peter Mutharika, some MPs and a Cabinet minister were caught on camera sleeping. All those who were sleeping can have all sorts of excuses, but what is clear is that they were sending a very negative message to the people of Malawi. May be they wanted people to conclude that the Sona was not knew and; therefore, not worth listening to. Some people can believe this because MPs, too, were in the corridors of power.
May be it is the absenteeism and the sleeping habits that make some MPs ask redundant questions of wanting boreholes, school blocks, etc., at each and every parliamentary seating. Each time round the answer is the same that government has no money. The other surprising thing is that in the Malawi Parliament one hears contributions from the same voices. Their constituencies must be proud of them while other constituents wonder why their MPs even bother to go to Parliament.
With all the misconduct of some MPs stated here, Malawians hold the answer if things are to improve in Parliament. The main problem here is that instead of voting for individual capabilities, people vote for the party. Worse still, those who aspire to get into Parliament just need to have money to bribe their way into power with all manner of handouts. Even the current MPs who have shown disrespect will easily be voted back into Parliament provided they have accumulated enough money to buy votes.
MPs should bear in mind that Parliament is a very important institution which demands people of high integrity and full of knowledge about both local and international issues. When one listens to the live broadcast of the South African parliament, their deliberations are serious business. Every member has something intelligent and useful to contribute, unlike here.
Malawi has a lot of challenges and with the low calibre of some MPs, one wonders if this country will ever see prosperity. The 2019 elections are three years away and it is time that Malawians started scouting for candidates who can seriously take the country forward. Failing which poverty will continue being synonymous to Malawi. n