Malawi: President Mutharika back as Parliament convenes

President of Malawi Bingu Wa Mutharika

By Emmanuel Muwamba – President Bingu wa Mutharika arrived in the country on Monday from South Korea where he attended the G20 meeting as chairperson of the African Union to ramptous welcome but he also took time to clarify on issues such as fuel and foreign exchange scarcity which are crippling the economy.

The President pointed a finger at businessmen of Asian orgin saying they syphon money out of the country. “When someone is milking my people [of foreign exchange], when someone is abusing my people I will not sit quite,” said Mutharika adding that he will not hesistate to revoke their business licences.

His answers at the press conference at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe has instantly responded to some crucial issues eexpected to be raised in Palriament which started sitting on Monday for six weeks.

His Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has attracted questions from consumers in the country over erratcci water supply and the opposition political parties in Parliament have asked government to issue a ministerial statement on the Shire-Zambezi Waterway Project and the stand-off between Malawi and Mozambique over the same.

Mutharika said Malawi fulfilled all the requirements which Mozambique raised.

“We have evidence that we fulifilled all their requirements. You will be up-dated on that very soon,” said Mutharika.

Last week, the main opposition parties Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) set the tone for the next agenda of the House also saying they want the recurrent problems facing the country such as foreign exchange and fuel crises as well as persistent power and water interruptions to be on the menu.

UDF leader in the House, Ibrahim Matola is quoted by The Nation as saying “If the ministers fail to come up with ministerial statements on these crucial issues then as UDF, we will push for some of the responsible ministers to resign because they have failed the nation.”

Government has however lined up some bills that are expected to be debated and passed without much scrutiny because of its numerical advantage. Among the bills expected during this seating include the pension bill, deceased or the wills and inheritance protection and the penal code.

By close of business on Sunday, various political parties had met to strategize on how to tackle issues once in the house.

But leader of the house George Chaponda was non-committal to disclosing more details about the democratic progressive party-DPP caucus. Several political commentators have since expressed doubt if the opposition can have an impact in a DPP dominated house.

During the last sittings for instance the ruling party easily amended laws and passed controversial bills with little or no scrutiny from the opposition.

Leader of opposition in parliament John Tembo has since told Capital FM that they would ensure that government is taken to task on issues of national importance. As Tembo explains, new members of parliament who won in the recent by-elections will also be introduced.

But the government side has said it will not comment on what will be tabled in the House until the Business Committee of the House meets.

Newly appointed leader of the House George Chaponda, however says it is indeed pertinent that statements be made on some of the issues raised and that the Business Committee will discuss them.