Deputy Speakers draw illegal rental allowances
First and Second Deputy Speakers may be facing a familiar ‘point-of-order’ query for drawing millions of kwacha in rental allowances which are way above their entitlement, Weekend Nation can reveal.
Documents we have seen indicate that First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka-Chilenje and Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya , who are entitled to K250 000 a month each as housing allowance for residing in their own houses, appear to be out of order by declaring to government that they live in rented houses.
The ruse enables them to take home an additional K300 000 a month since the maximum housing allowance if they are living in rented houses is K550 000.
Mcheka-Chilenje said in an interview yesterday that she is living in a rented house.
On his part, Chiwaya, confirmed owning the house he is living in, but said it had not been paid for in full.
Said Chiwaya: “I am interested in buying the house inasmuch as I am renting it from Tsogolani Estate Agents. We also agreed with Tsogolani that we should modify the house. I find it difficult to understand that you should be interested in this issue.”
But official documents seem to contradict assertions by both Chiwaya and Mcheka-Chilenje.
Records show that Mouse House Estate Agents in September 2014 claimed K3.3 million from Mcheka-Chilenje as payment for six months rent from July to December 2014 for a house on plot number 47/1/42 in Area 47, Lilongwe.
However, records at the Land Registry indicate that Mcheka-Chilenje herself owns the plot which she leased for 99 years from Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) on February 23 2002.
In Chiwaya’s case, Tsogolani Estate Agents were paid K3.3 million on August 27 2014 being six months rentals for a house in Gulliver, Area 49, Lilongwe, situated at plot number 49/1/921.
Again, records at the Land Registry show that Chiwaya himself owns the plot which he leased from MHC for 99 years on June 9 2004.
Further, both Mcheka-Chilenje and Chiwaya appear to have used the properties as collateral for bank loans.
But both Patricia Banda, who is the chief executive officer for Mouse House Estate Agents, and Nathene Kadewere of Tsogolani Estate Agents confirmed in separate interviews yesterday to renting the properties to Mcheka-Chilenje and Chiwaya respectively.
When contacted for comment, acting clerk of Parliament Renard Mapemba refused to elaborate on how much they are paying for the two Deputy Speakers and referred the matter to the spokesperson of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) Ralph Jooma, who also declined to comment on the matter.
However, the chairperson of PSC sub-committee on human resource, Vitus Dzoole Mwale, said the commission’s stand is that Deputy Dpeakers should be receiving housing allowances similar to deputy ministers, which is K250 000 a month if occupying own house.
Executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Timothy Mtambo said the conduct of the two Deputy Speakers raises a moral issue as Parliament cannot check other arms of government when it is also abusing systems.
“If what is being alleged is true then we have a big problem because it will be difficult for them to have the moral integrity to perform checks on other branches of government.
“This is another Cashgate and we urge the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to deal with it so that Malawians in public offices should desist from abusing public funds,” Mtambo said.
He further said the development is disappointing considering that most Malawians regard Parliament as a beacon of hope in ensuring that there is integrity and control of abuse of power, positions and resource which is currently rampant in the Executive.
“Our country is struggling and limping economically. Social service delivery is in a very pathetic state, so it is very worrying when we have the people we trusted to inspire and bring integrity to the public are in the forefront perpetrating malpractices. By the end of the day, the poor citizen is the victim and the people’s rights continue to be violated heavily. This is not only unacceptable but it is also very unfair,” Mtambo said.