I guess I don’t need to waste your time by giving you a chapter and a verse about my second homecoming from my rather extended ‘sabbatical’. I am back.
Without necessarily condoning extravagance on the part of the Legislature against the economic crisis the country is in, I can’t help laughing at the politicking the Executive is steeped in against the Legislature.
For starters, the Speaker, his two deputies and the Leader of Opposition have the past week been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Parliament has squandered a mouth-watering K300 million on vehicles for its four officials at a time the institution is said to be failing to conduct some important activities.
There is no denying our four leaders in the Legislature need good vehicles for mobility befitting their status in order for them to discharge their duties efficiently and effectively. But this does not in any way warrant them to splurge out largesse from the taxpayer on motor vehicles they can make do at half the cost or less. .
Just to put, in a more clear perspective, the seriousness of the economic crisis the country is in, the nation was told that one branch of government—the Judiciary—this week could not raise a pool vehicle to pick a High Court judge from home to office. The judge has been using a personal vehicle for a year now. He was supposed to preside over a case where the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Synod Livingstonia wants its Kanengo congregation to stop using its building. As if to add humour to his unfortunate situation the judge asked the clergy to pray for government to find enough resources to buy him a vehicle. Now, we are talking here about the frustration of a High Court judge. Who can blame him for expressing his frustration when he sees that officers in the same government are treated as if they are more important than others?
I am sure the judge must have been remembering that while the Judiciary has failed to place a vehicle at his disposal for over a year, some officers have no qualms wasting dizzying amounts of taxpayers’ money on capital expenditures they can easily postpone.
But what I find laughable is the politicking by the Minister of Information Jappie Mhango in the manner he has come out to condemn the wastefulness of the Legislature—when the same minister was waxing lyrical about the Executive’s similar spendthrift on the UNGA just a month ago. Government spent a whopping K300 million on the trip where it took over a 100 people to New York most of whom were mere tourists.
I am sure the minister, as the government spokesperson, is aware that he can only be taken more seriously by members of the public if he is level-headed in what he says.
But reading between the lines what is clear is that the minister’s loud mouth against the Legislature is a reflection of the deep-seated animosity between the Executive which is basically the ruling party—the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—and the Malawi Congress Party which calls the shots in Parliament. The Minister is simply capitalising on the weak spots of the Legislature and the bashing is meant to expose the soft underbelly of the opposition, namely, that MCP is after all not a better alternative to the DPP on fiscal discipline and managing the economy as a whole.
This week, Parliament, through its chief public relations officer, Leonard Mengezi, came out to parry away some of the allegations on wastefulness. He said the K213 million meant for committee meetings was actually spent for the purpose it was allocated and cited the meetings that took place. Yet listening to the yapping by Mhango one would think the Legislature has gone all out to spend even that which was meant for other activities.
This is a good pointer to the kind of propaganda Malawians should expect from the Executive in many days coming especially when government is not performing well economically. n