This week we are extremely angry. Our anger started building up when President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera announced to the world that his government would build houses for all members of Parliament (MPs) in their constituencies. The more we wondered whose idea it was, the angrier we became. All MPs claim during their campaigns that they are well to do and only seek election to Parliament to help their constituents. How is a house built for an MP going to help constituents?
Minister of Information, who is also government spokesperson, our dear Gospel Kazako, argued on ZBS radio that by building houses for MPs, government was going to save billions of kwacha in rental expenditures over the long-term. Some unpatriotic commentators on social media have angrily described the Chakwere an gesture as typical MP buying. Interestingly, no MP, including the vocal Martha Lunjika, has spoken against MP house scheme. MPs are in a Catch 22 situation.
We just laughed angrily because we knew the government spokesperson did not just want to correct his boss. In 2006 or thereabouts we suggested, through the Malawi Parliament’s Communication Strategy, that government should build constituency offices in all constituencies where the common people, voters would go and interact with each other and, occasionally, with their member of parliament, read documents in the constituency library, among other activities. The same office would also be used by ward councilors, multiparty liaison committees and community based organisations. That was one of the many ways of taking parliament to the people and demonstrating that parliament is a non-partisan institution.
The document we are referring to, titled Taking Parliament to the People-A Communication Strategy for the Malawi National Assembly, is still available at Parliament and online.
We were about to forget about President Chakwera MP Houses serious joke when the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) summoned its only MP for disciplinary hearing all because he had found President Chakwera’s State of the Nation (Sona) wanting. Aford has argued that as a member of the Tonse Alliance, the party cannot afford to criticise or correct the president. And that is where we got angry. The MP in question, Yeremiah Chihana, acted heroically by presenting a motion that eventually led to the holding of fresh presidential elections. All the other MPs cowardly sat back as DPP was playing its delaying games.
Aford’s action is uncalled for, unpatriotic, undemocratic, ill-advised and utterly ridiculous. MPs must exercise a good measure of independence while they support their party policies. By the way, what has Aford gained from being a member of the Tonse Alliance? The Tonse Alliance, lend us your ears Messrs Aford et al, is for MCP, UTM and PP. Case closed. The rest of the petit parties and people that got hoarse marketing Chakwera just wasted their time and have, so far, not been recognised. Anyway take heart. Parastatal board memberships, ambassadorships, and other openings are still on the cards. In short, we urge MP Yeremiya Chihana to ignore the so-called disciplinary meeting.
If you thought those two events were enough to make us sick, you were wrong. Since Wednesday, a local mobile operator has been telling its clients that the Malawi passport is an illegal identification document. The message says all of us who registered our numbers using the Malawi passport and other forms of official legal identification documentation should hurry to their offices with our National IDs to be reregistered. We have never been this insulted in our own country. Why can’t the company link up with the National Registration Bureau and the passport and update its database without annoying us?
Our message to them is that we are Malawians, owners of this country. We are not toys to be pushed around. We will not come to your offices. You may get take away your mobile numbers. We will go where we are treated respectfully. Thank you and good bye.