A MESSAGE OF GOODWILL TO OUR PARLIAMENTARIANS
Our current parliament is about to complete its second year in service. We in PPM believe that it is time for you our honourable members of parliament to reflect back and re-think the achievements or/and your failures. PPM is sending this message of goodwill to you our parliamentarians to share our observations in the past 21 months of your service to the people of Malawi.
1.0 REGULAR MEETINGS
PPM would like to commend and applaud you for having managed to meet regularly in line with the constitutional requirement throughout the 21 months of your term. This was not the case with the previous parliament for reasons well known to most of us. Thanks to the Speaker and State President for their cooperation in this regard.
Your debates were orderly and disciplined to a certain extent. Incidents of disorder were minimal. Walk-outs were not as regular. Bad language was limited although provocative language was at times used by some members. Our Honourable Speakers controlled such situations.
3.0 DEBATE CONTENT
Debate content was poor. Issues were fast tracked leaving substantial matters hanging. This behavior kept annoying your electorate. This unfortunate and questionable behavior was more pronounced particularly when debating very crucial and sensitive bills. To the majority of your electorate, it was clear that our parliamentarians have a hidden agenda aimed at oppressing them.
Attendance deteriorated due to increased absenteeism by some members. To some MPs, this could be an indication of the feeling that they are wasting their time seating in the Chamber because the issues being debated are not what their constituents expect. Indeed the way business is conducted in the house is so disappointing even to the electorate.
5.0 BILLS PASSED
The majority of the bills you have passed are extremely unpopular with your electorate. They are oppressive and likely to drag the nation back to dictatorship or worse still to Dynasty Rule. One commentator described most of the bills passed in the current parliament as “BARBARIC and DRACONIAN”. Some of your electorates commented that you are making the laws for yourselves or/and your political parties not for the good of the nation because you do not consult them. You are following instructions of your political party masters blindly without due consideration of your voters. There are a few courageous MPs who speak for the electorate during crucial debate. To those few we say Congratulations!!. The general feeling is that if you consulted the electorate, they could not have allowed you to pass or even debate bills like:
I. Allowing the Police to search their houses without a court search warrant.
Refer to section 18 (police bill)
II. Giving powers to the President to decide when and whether or not to hold local government elections when their constitution provided for a fixed election month. We have already witnessed the uncertainly and confusion surrounding the holding of local government elections. Only a naive person can believe that the elections will be free and fair if they are going to be held at all . WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS . Certainly, it is you our honourable members of parliament for giving powers to one person to decide on our electoral fate. A lot of such confusion is yet to come in a number of areas you have changed the law.
Refer to section 96 (2) (Local government act bill)
III. Giving powers to an individual Minister to ban publications which give your electorate news they are entitled to. This is tantamount to muzzling the press and thereby keeping your electorate in the dark. In any case, Section 46 of the penal code is not consistent with the constitution if you don’t know. How do you therefore expect anyone to be convicted on a section which is inconsistent with the constitution. May be that’s why you are reintroducing Local Court!
Refer to section 36 (Media bill)
IV. Arresting your electorates for breaking wind in public when we all know that Malawians are already a very disciplined nation where passing gas in public is concerned. It is very embarrassing to every Malawian to break wind in public. Why debate such a bill yet alone proposing it for debate.
Proposed debate (cabinet meeting)
V. Creating local courts when we very well know that our problem with the back log of cases in courts is lack of capacity in the judiciary which can be effectively solved by training more magistrates. Local courts will simply confuse the aggrieved as to which court system is competent enough to handle the matter at hand. Worse still, local courts will be abused by people in power to oppress opposition parties and anybody with dissenting views as it happened in the one party era. Are you really serious honourable members that you want to drive the nation into repeating a mistake??
Refer to section 133 (Local courts bill)
VI. Requiring political parties and civil society to ask for permission from the Police to hold a rally or peaceful demonstration when our democratic right requires that such groups should only inform the police when they want to hold a rally or peaceful demonstrations for security purposes. Your electorate knows that this is aimed at oppressing the people and denying Malawians freedom of information to enable them have a well informed choice on matters which affect their lives. You want them to hear from the ruling party only. Several requests from Civil Society and the opposition parties to hold rallies and peaceful demonstration have been denied by the police. This will continue to create problems for the people of Malawi and that will badly reflect back on you our parliamentarians.
Refer to section 18 (Police bill)
VII. The injunction bill which clearly aims at oppressing the aggrieved who want to complain against government. Why should the law obstruct or stand in the way of the aggrieved ?
Section 10 (2) (Court injunction bill)
VIII. Power given to the police to question university lectures on purely academic issues discussed in class. These are the issues we used to see in the 30 years dictatorship rule. How can you therefore deny that you are driving us backwards?
IX. The issues which were raised in the Bishop’s Pastoral letter continue to be swept under the carpet when your electorates expect you to start analyzing the issues and passing appropriate registration to address these national concerns
Refer to The Catholic Bishops pastoral letter no. 20 entitled “Reading Signs of the Time”
Some of the bills made our parliament a laughing stock internationally. This is a very unfortunate development for our nation. Worse still, some of the bills annoyed the donor community who are now re-thinking their position on Malawi. Honourable Members!! Where are you taking this country to? Are you trying to create room for dictatorship or dynasty rule? If you only sit back and rethink through these bills, any wise person will know that this is the direction you are taking our country. If you don’t know, please cool your tempers and re-think. Ask your elders about how the one party dictatorship was created. Parliament was used to change laws and consequently everybody suffered including those who were used to change the laws.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
In the first multiparty parliament and period prior to that parliament, Malawians of wisdom cleaned our constitution. We are now being pushed backwards by you our honourable MPs.
Ironically our parliament and the executive wing of government are dominated by those who ran away from the evils of the 30 year dictatorship that they do not know what it means to be in a dictatorship rule. They should ask the brave ones who stayed. Dictatorship makes everybody suffer including MPs and Cabinet Ministers when they lose their seats or fall out of favour since these are not life time positions. Power remains in the hands of the people. Atsogoleri amangobwelekedwa. It is therefore not wise to misuse Chinthu Chobwereka. PPM recognizes “people power” fully. This is why our political ideology is POWER TO THE PEOPLE. We strongly believe in “People’s Power” when all other parties want “Power” for themselves.
Good lesson for you to learn from is that the MP who moved the “Single Meal for Prisoners Motion” in the late 1960s ended in prison within two years after this bill was passed when he thought he was making the law for prisoners not him. He accepted his mistake while in prison. Kunja kuno kuli Mulungu. Nthawi zina amatilangira pansi pompano.
What is surprising, not only to PPM but to the nation at large is that issues which really concern the majority of Malawians are never discussed constructively in our national assembly.
You may wish to know that your parliament has passed more bills in 21 months than any other parliament since independence if not since the founding of this nation in the 18th century and yet serious issues which
affect the nation remain either untouched or/and unresolved.
Some of the critical issues are:-
5.1 Shortage of forex which has culminated into shortages of fuel, raw materials, machinery and spare parts among other necessities. In the last term these issues were blamed on opposition parties for refusing to pass the budget. Is the opposition still standing in your way?
5.2 Impact of the fertilizer subsidy programme on the persistent forex shortage in the past 4 years . While it may be a good programme, the question is - is it sustainable? This programme was meant to benefit the poor and make them self reliant in due course. We believe the programme should have started phasing out i.e. less beneficiaries in subsequent years.
5.3 Subsequently this programme should have gotten replaced by “Fertilizer Loan Schemes” as proposed by PPM in the last parliament? (Ngongole kwa alimi ang’ono ang’ono zobweza akagulitsa mbeu zawo). We are not in the stone age where we should only worry about enough food to eat and nothing else. No forex, no fuel, no raw materials etc. We can do better than this.
5.4 Why is Malawi stuck with chemical fertilizers when several countries have since replaced it with organic and bio-fertiliser whose raw materials are found in abundance in our country?
5.5 Why has government abandoned the inclusion of ethanol in our petrol which
was saving us millions of dollars in forex when it was properly regulated?
5.6 Why is government not pursuing the development and use of bio-diesel to replace the petroleum diesel to save forex? Bio-diesel is made of up to 40% Jatropha Oil or other oil seeds. The social/economic impact in using bio-diesel is three fold;
i. Income to farmers producing the seeds,
ii. Huge forex saving on diesel imports and,
iii. Organic fertilizer production out of the oil cake which is rich in soil nutrients.
5.7 Why isn’t government encouraging import discipline? We are importing water, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and so many other things which are readily available in Malawi at a time when we are experiencing the worst forex shortage in the economic history of our country. Government is hiding behind “Liberalization “ Do you know that liberalization without regulations and discipline can spell doom?
5.8 When will MALDEF/YEDEF open up to members of other political parties since DPP members have enjoyed the facility for over 4 years now?
5.9 Can government not negotiate for a dedicated vessel to transship Malawi cargo from Dar es Salaam to Nacala and encourage importers to use that cheaper route to save forex? For example, exempt duty on transport cost on that route only.
5.10 Introduce bills to strengthen our democracy to avoid drifting the nation
into a Dictatorship or Dynasty Rule i.e bring back the senate and recall provisions. Honourable Members, you may wish to be reminded that the reason why the senate was removed is no longer relevant. If we can afford to pay our MP over K20,000.00 per day on top of a salary and other allowances package of almost half a Million Kwacha, we can afford a senate now to bridge between the MPs and Head of State. The senate will be instrumental in slowing down the passing of oppressive laws. Section 64 will kick-out MPs who work for themselves and their party masters instead of working for their electorate.
5.11 More of our school leaving youth are joining the ULOVA CLUB every year. Can government not consider training some of them as magistrates to build capacity in the judicially instead of creating another court system for chiefs when in fact the chiefs are already very busy with traditional matters and being pushed to campaign for a 2014 presidential candidate? Will the chiefs have time to try cases considering that such campaigns are starting immediately after general elections. The chiefs can be pushed to a point, their capacity is being overstretched. They are human beings. In fact, the chiefs will be among the oppressed if you our MPs create another dictatorship or dynasty rule.
5.12 Can government not consider training most of the thousands of our youth who are loafing in apprenticeship to stimulate entrepreneurship? If properly trained, most of them will go into own businesses to build national capacity in cottage industries to substitute the importation of things like water, vegetables, furniture, cereals, fruit juices, potatoes, cooking oil, organic fertilizers and many more products whose raw materials are found in abundance in Malawi to save forex.
Honourable Members, this is just a dozen of the many issues our parliament can debate to truly transform Malawi into a really prosperous nations to meet the aspirations of its citizens. Most Malawians who have travelled have seen what national prosperity is in other countries. WE CAN DO IT.
6.0 THE DANGER OF INTRODUCING SO MANY LAWS
You have introduced so many laws in our legal system including another court system (the Local Courts) within a very short period without giving the nation time to assess the impact these changes will have in the medium and long term.
Where are you rushing to?
The danger of what you have done is that, introducing so many changes in anything be it in government, business, church or even in a chemistry composition can create confusion which can result in a total failure of the intended purpose/result. Certainly, even a secondary school student would question his teacher if he/she (the teacher) asked him/her to introduce so many changes into his/her (student) chemist formula composition. WHAT IS OUR PARLIAMENT SUBJECTING US TO WITH ALL THESE CHANGES IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM??
PPM doesn’t believe that Malawians will allow their parliament to continue driving them into repeating the mistake of creating another Dictatorship or allow room for the creation of a Dynasty because both are very bad forms of government.
7.0 TIME TO RE-THINK
As parliament rises, PPM would like to appeal to the Honourable Speaker to arrange for a meeting between the cabinet and parliament to seriously consider slowing down in introducing so many changes to our legal system. Parliament should start forecasting on issues which will build our nation like those stated above and many more. That meeting should also agree to repeal all the unpopular laws you have enacted. Those laws are not good for you or anybody. You may not agree today, but soon or later you will. Who knows, you may agree while in prison serving the laws enacted by yourselves.
Our President is a reasonable person. He will certainly welcome such a meeting to take place and preferably chaired by him. PPM initiated such meetings in the previous parliament and were very successful. The Speaker should invite all Party Leaders in Parliament and a few wise Honourable Members of Parliament from both opposition and government.
Honourable MPs, we sincerely thank you for taking time to read this message, and we hope that the sentiments expressed herein will have an impact in your deliberations hereafter, because it is said that knowledge without action is a sin. YOU HAVE NOW KNOWN WHAT YOUR FAILURES ARE IN CASE YOU DID NOT KNOW. YOUR FAILURES ARE INDEED BOTHERING THE MAJORITY OF MALAWIANS.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
KUBWERETSA UMODZI, CHIKONDI NDI ULEMERERO