Updated: Opposition Brings Govt Down To Its Knees, Parliament Adjourned

Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs0 have today forced first deputy speaker Esther Chilenje to adjourn the House due to misunderstandings on the General Purpose Advance loan.

The parliamentarians have warned that they will only continue with deliberations if Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe makes a statement.

Opposition MPs have ganged up and agreed to sabotage the K1.136 trillion 2016/17 national budget if government does not bow down to their demands concerning the General Purpose Advance loan.

The parliamentarians sounded the warning when the House reconvened in Lilongwe yesterday after two weeks of committee meetings where allocations to ministries, departments and agencies were being scrutinized.

According to the legislators, the Executive is “behaving in such a way as if it’s the master and that MPs have to kneel down to receive what is duly theirs.”

Kasungu North East Parliamentarian, Elias Wakuda Kamanga, rising on Standing Order 73 (matter of personal explanation), took government to task and demanded an explanation on delays regarding the MPs’ access to their General Purpose Fund (GPF).

Some of the entitlements in the terms and conditions of service of the MPs include an emergency loan of K1 million apart from car loans and other allowances.

“This is an issue of employer and employee; government cannot start now choosing what to give us. Let government just say it whether our conditions of service have been suspended or abolished and it must be today before debate on the budget starts.

“We must have a free mind before we tackle the budget or government will be sorry. A pronouncement has to be made by the Minister of Finance,” charged Kamanga.

The sentiments by Kamanga caused uproar in the House with most opposition MPs agitating for a debate on the issue.

However, Speaker Richard Msowoya who seemed not in the mood to tolerate any un-parliamentary conduct in the House shot down the calls, warning that he would give matching orders to any member undermining his authority.

Said Msowoya: “Our Standing Order 73 is clear that this issue should not be debated and I will not entertain any questions from the members. Honorable member for Lilongwe Mpenu, if you keep standing each time I am speaking I will kick you out and don’t say I’ve done it because of so and so.”

But despite the caution, Lilongwe Mpenu MP Makala Ngozo insisted that a waiver be allowed for members to be heard on the matter, saying the MPs were not ready for any other business apart from the issue of their welfare.

Government Chief Whip Henry Mussa also avoided to comment on the matter but asked Msowoya to let the House continue with debate on the budget.

Lilongwe South MP Peter Dimba surprised his fellow members when he stood with his pay slip in his hand saying: “I have my pay slip here, I receive K600, 000 basic pay and after deductions I receive a net salary of K254, 000. Now after the stories came out that we receive K1.4 million our spouses are saying we are under-declaring our income at home.”

Chairperson of the Social Welfare Committee of Parliament Alex Major also informed the house that he was chairing a committee tasked to look into the delays by Treasury to fulfill all conditions of service for the MPs and that the Executive has never been forthcoming.

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