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MPs houses dominate Malawi Parliament deliberations

Catherine Gotani Hara: Speaker of parliament

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera’s promise to construct houses for Members of Parliament in all constituencies has attracted mixed reactions from both the public and the legislators themselves, with many viewing the idea as a departure from priorities.

Addressing Malawians on the State of the nation in parliament on Friday last week, President Chakwera said “it has long been my view that we ought to have official residences for MPs within their constituencies to ensure they are part of the communities they represent. My Administration is therefore actively engaging investors to develop plans for this project and to expedite its commencement.”

However, the general public received the news with a shock cognizant of the fact that there is a litany of burning issues that remain unattended to. In addition to that the country government has not implemented any of the promises they made during the campaign for the highest position.

The first parliamentarian to question the idea was leader of opposition in parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa, who said “the President surely did not do any justice to Malawians by pledging to construct official houses for Members of Parliament (MPs) especially considering that MPs are wealthier than many civil servants.”

 “Most of civil servants including teachers, nurses, police and army officers, social welfare officers and agriculture extension workers, among others live in dilapidated houses. This is an insult to poor Malawians,” he added while responding to the State of Nation Address yesterday.

When the parliament reconvened today in the morning,  United Democratic Front (UDF) leader in parliament Ned Poya complemented Nankhumwa’s sentiments by calling on the Tonse Alliance government to prioritize construction of houses for teachers, health workers and security agents rather than moving to construct MPs houses.

Poya also faulted President Lazarus Chakwera for failing to tackle the issue of environment and climate change in his State of the Nation Address.

Echoing Poya’s remarks, Mwanza West MP Joyce Chitsulo called on President Chakwera to prioritize improvement of health services in the country other than construction of MPs houses.

She said her constituency needs health centers and not MPs houses at the moment.

She said despite that the housing project will help government save on expenditure in the long run, there is need to value things that will impact on lives of people now.

She has also called on government to implement the promise of K14 000 cost for passports saying people are eager to get passports at lower cost.

However, as it has always been the case, MPs for the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) stood in protest against those who were opposing MPs housing project calling them hypocrites.

MP for Ntchisi South Ulemu Chilapondwa argued that lawmakers are drawing allowances for accommodation which costs government a lot.

He said: “those objecting the housing project should stop getting the accomodation allowances if they are serious about prioritizing the welfare of people in constituencies.”

He further said that the country needs the houses as they are permanent structures and will serve MPs for a long period of time and in turn help government save on accommodation allowances for MPs.

Rumphi West Independent MP Yona Mkandawire agred with Chilapondwa saying government is spending about K2.3 billion a year in accommodation for MPs hence the need for construction of houses for the MPs.

Meanwhile, deliberations are sin progress at the parliament where MPs are still scrutinizing President Chakwera’s first SONA since he assumed the office after emerging a winner in the court sanctioned election held on June 23, 2020.

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