Members of Parliament (MPs) from the opposition benches have decried the uncertainty on the implementation of numerous motions Parliament has passed in the past three meetings to move government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to act on.
The legislators are referring to eight motions Parliament passed, among them is one that compels the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to use part of its budgetary allocation to contract commercial farmers to produce irrigated winter maize which Nkhotakota South East MP Everson Makowa Mwale (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) successfully moved and received support from both the government and opposition.
Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances chairperson Harry Mlekanjala Mkandawire said in an interview yesterday that his committee will discuss the stalled motions during its meeting next week.
He said: “The Speaker mentioned it to me and this issue will be on the agenda of the meeting next week. It is worrisome that Parliament makes a decision, but the Executive ignores it.
“It is the intention of the committee chair to call the leader of the House to explain progress on implementation of these motions.”
On his part, leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa said government’s intention is not to ignore the motions even though they originate from the opposition.
He said: “Since I came into this office, I have not seen reports on motions which needed my attention. I will follow up with the Clerk of Parliament and see if they were processed.
“But it is not true that it is because they are from the opposition. In fact, as government, we get the most support from the opposition on motions and bills.”
Besides Makowa-Mwale, Dedza North West MP Alekeni Menyani (MCP) moved a motion to pave the way for a private member’s Bill which would stop commercial banks and lending institutions from recovering more than 100 percent of the loaned amount.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe did not object to a motion by Dedza East MP Juliana Lunguzi (MCP) that government should produce details of each loan and grant the House has approved since 1994 for the Budget and Finance Committee to review their impact.
However, the MPs are in the dark on whether these motions have been implemented by the relevant authorities.
Before the Mid-Year Budget Meeting rose sine die, Makowa-Mwale wrote Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya requesting him to implore Mkandawire’s committee to follow up on House resolutions, specifically on the motions which he tabled.
In a letter dated March 2 2017, Makowa-Mwale said the committee “should investigate as to why the following resolutions of the House seem not to be implemented”.
The resolutions were on the economy class air travel motion of June 16 2016 and Press Trust equitable distribution of income motion of December 15 2016.
In his response to the request, Msowoya said: “Hon member, it is within the powers of the said committee to look into such issues and bring the report to the House.”
Standing Order 162 states that the mandate of the Committee on Government Assurances is to scrutinise assurances, promises and undertakings by ministers of government and report on the extent to which they have been implemented within the specified period ordered by the House.
Yesterday, Makowa-Mwale said: “There was an assurance from the government that they would take up the issues as passed by the House. On the motion on NFRA, the Minister of Finance agreed with my proposal, as did the whole House, that NFRA should be mandated to grow its own crops for the reserves and even gave examples of Zambia where this is happening. But I am now worried that with the expected bumper yields, this motion will be ignored.”
It was his belief that the government was slow to act because the motions were predominantly from the opposition side.
“I am becoming discouraged. As it stands now, the only motions which the government cannot avoid implementing are the ones which come with a bill,” the MP observed.
Menyani said there was need to follow up the motions he tabled with an amendment bill, but it was expensive to hire a lawyer to draft amendments.
“The problem could be on how and whether the COP communicates with the Chief Secretary on these resolutions,” he said.