Mutharika and MsowoyaMalawi 

Malawi President declares Parliament is not bigger than government on the occasion of opening the 47th session of the National Assembly

Malawi President declares Parliament is not bigger than government on the occasion of opening the 47th session of the National Assembly

President Peter Mutharika on Friday morning officially opened the 47th session of the National Assembly in the Capital City of Lilongwe where he told Member of Parliament (MPs) that the August House is not bigger than Government He also admitted that the country’s electricity crisis has affected the economy of Malawi as well as the living standards of the citizens

Below is the President’s speech titled ‘Rising Above Macroeconomic Stability’

HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT;

HER EXCELLENCY MADAM THANDIWE DUMBUTCHENA, DEAN OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS AND HEADS OF DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS;

MR LLOYD MUHARA, CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT;

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS;

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

INTRODUCTION
Mr Speaker, Sir, I do not come to deliver a State of the Nation Address That has its own time and day I come here to open the 47th Session of Parliament Above all, I am here to ask: why are we here?

Parliament is an important part of Government Parliament is an important part of the people Parliament is a cornerstone of democracy But Parliament is not, and should never consider itself bigger than Government

As Parliament, the first reason of existence is, as we say, “to make laws” But more precisely, we are here to enact legislation for the good of the nation We enact the laws that have been made in a collective process Indeed, Parliament cannot, and does not make laws single-handedly Making laws is our shared responsibility between the Executive and Parliament

The second reason of our existence is to represent the people We are here to act on behalf of our voters and citizens And how many of us truly represent the will of the people? How many of us consult the people we represent?

I have seen times when Members of Parliament represent their parties more than the people I have seen times when Members of Parliament frustrate Government business that is meant to serve the very people we claim to represent And I ask again: why are we here?

The third reason why we exist as Parliament is to maintain oversight of the Executive on behalf of the people of Malawi It is critical to hold the Executive accountable But who holds us accountable? As I will be underlining later in this speech, in any human society – everyone must be accountable to someone else

It is in performing the above roles that we become part of Government
Yes, Government is incomplete without Parliament And Parliament cannot exist without the Executive and the Judiciary

Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to emphasize that we must avoid the hubris we sometimes suffer – the political hubris of thinking that we are more important than the rest of Government Such political pride can be birth of the tragedy of democracy

We are here for the people This Session will only be meaningful if we all remember that we are here to represent the people
Far too often Mr Speaker, we meet here to flex our political muscles
This is not a house for political posturing This is not our house
Parliament is the house of the people We are here on the principle of representing the people

On that principle Mr Speaker Sir, let me speak about matters that affect the people as we sit here Let me speak about economic performance, energy situation, food security, public health, public sector reforms and national security
Let me say from the outset Mr Speaker, Sir, that as a nation, we are making steady and positive progress in most sectors of our economy, in spite of the challenges that we are currently facing All we need now is for us to work together to sustain and build on the achievements that have been gained so far if we are to realize the sustainable and inclusive growth that we, as a nation, aspire

For this reason, Mr Speaker, Sir, I have titled my Statement “Rising above Macroeconomic Stability”
Mr Speaker, Sir, we have already laid the foundation for sustainable medium-term growth through the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (MGDS III), which Government recently adopted after wide consultations with all relevant stakeholders The MGDS III will be our overarching medium-term development strategy for the next five years

The implementation of the Strategy will economically transform the nation and make us a productive, competitive and resilient nation

MACROECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
Mr Speaker, Sir, there is no point in denying reality because we want to politick for the sake of politicking The reality is: we have done well in economic performance in the last three years

In three years, inflation has fallen from 24 percent to 84 percent as of September 2017 Interest rates have dramatically fallen and our base lending rate also declined to 18 percent by July, 2017 Our exchange rate has been stable for over two years

Further, preliminary forecast for 2017 economic growth rate is likely to be higher than the 55 percent that was estimated earlier In fact, the rate of growth could be the highest in the SADC region And Malawi is fast rising on the global doing business index

We found a broken economy We have achieved economic stability We are now set to rise above economic stability We are set for economic growth We are set to rise again as a country

Mr Speaker Sir, let us agree that it is a result of sound economic management that we achieved these phenomenal results Let it go down in history that we are a country that achieved economic stability through national disasters

We reversed the devastating effects of the infamous Cashgate

We defied floods We survived seasons of drought We defied hunger We fed our people for two years of hunger Above all, we ran this country without budgetary aid My Government proved that Malawi can achieve economic independence And that’s what Malawians want As for us, we have been tested and tried but we prevailed! The story of our economy tells it all

FOOD SECURITY
Those who oppose for the sake of opposing tell us that inflation is being fixed And I ask: was the inflation also being fixed when it was rising? They tell us: inflation is falling because we banned maize export And I ask: why did inflation begin to fall when there was national hunger and we were importing maize instead of exporting?

Mr Speaker Sir, this denial of our progress is testimony that this country has people who oppose my Government for the sake of opposing
This country has politicians who don’t wish Malawians well They are so much obsessed with scoring cheap political points that they would rather see Malawi failing than prospering

In their political agenda, they want to see our economy failing so that they should say the Government has failed In their agenda, they have been opposing our banning of maize export because they want us to export all the maize They would want this country to go hungry again and see Malawians suffering so that they can say my Government has failed

Mr Speaker, Sir, we must never regret that we restricted the export of maize Maize is the life of our people Exporting all our maize is exporting our life Our goal was to make sure that we have enough maize in our reserves to feed Malawians in case the next harvest goes bad I made this decision because I mean well

The means to the goal might be painful But the end is good for us all Let us not sink into cheap politics of pleasing our people today in order to betray them into suffering tomorrow And yes, it takes pain and sacrifice to achieve good things There is no soft ride to achievement There is no easy walk to prosperity!

Mr Speaker Sir, I want to report to this house that we have achieved our noble goal We now have enough maize in our reserves to cushion us in case we don’t harvest enough I want Malawians to sleep with peace in our mind knowing that we have food for today and we will have enough food for tomorrow
But I have one caution Mr Speaker Let us not forget that we are Malawians Let us not be carried away by international driven policies that do not work for our people In our culture, we have always been proud to keep surplus maize in our homestead As our people say, kulemera ndikudya! We do not stop growing maize in the next season because we have what we traditionally call chimanga chogonera! We grow more maize because we do not want to be a nation of beggars begging food from others

Therefore, let me urge all farmers to grow more maize this season If you wish your voters well, let every Member of Parliament in this house go to our people and urge our people to grow more maize Maize is our life

And we cannot stop growing maize because we have enough maize
As Government, I want to commit that we will support our farmers This year, we have started distributing coupons and our Farm Input Subsidy Program is on course We have defied those who wanted to frustrate and derail the program to starve millions of Malawians

In a special vote of thanks, Mr Speaker Sir, let me thank the Agriculture Committee of this House for taking a patriotic, firm and defiant stand in defence of the subsidy program

DEMOCRACY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Mr Speaker, Sir, let me turn to the subject of accountability I have always said accountability is the first principle of democracy In a democracy, everyone must be accountable to someone And let only God be accountable to himself

Time and again, Government gives an account of its work to the people of Malawi Through your committees, you Members of Parliament have been examining records of government, asking questions and demanding answers
My Government has been accountable to the people of Malawi through you We are always accountable to Parliament

But are you accountable to Government and the people who voted for you?
As we say in Latin, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Put it this way, who watches the watchers? Who is holding accountable the MPs who hold us accountable in this house?

I hear the people complaining that some of you are abusing Constituency Development Fund (CDF) I hear the people crying that some development projects are not completed because their Member of Parliament has abused CDF

Government sets aside this money in the budget for the people The fund is for development work in the constituencies But some members are abusing the money instead of giving development to the people

Some MPs abuse the funds of the people And yet Mr Speaker, the same vocal MPs stand here to accuse Government of corruption

Let me say this Mr Speaker, and to all dear Malawians hearing me now
Something is tragic with a democracy in which those who think are watchdogs also think they must be accountable to no one In any human society, in any democracy, no institution must be accountable to no one

That is precisely why I delight to see Ministries, Departments and Agencies of my Government being subjected to accountability in this House

I am pleased to see accountability at work in this House and in my Government
We have seen Public Accounts Committee ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies are subjected to public finance management
We have seen the Auditor General at work

Specifically, we have seen the Auditor General’s Report of 2013
The outcome of the Report is, to say the least, very disheartening I know that some political activists masquerading as journalists worked hard to use the 2013 Report to create a perception that corruption is worsening in my Government It is deplorable that as a society we are descending into cheap politics of misinforming the public

But I also know that the Media Committee of this august House will not sit back and watch others destroy our society
But let me say this: It does not matter whose Government the reports apply to Let me warn that my Government, through this House, will hold accountable all controlling officers who fail to undertake their responsibilities as laid down in important legal frameworks Follow the Public Finance Management Act, the Public Procurement Act, and other laws or face dire consequences

Comply with financial rules and regulations or be ready to face the law It does not matter who you are As we say, the law is a blind monster that will crush anyone who gets in its way

Mr Speaker, Sir, let me also urge the National Audit Office to continue auditing all public accounts on a timely schedule In so doing, we instill public confidence in the manner in which resources are utilized
I am pleased to report that my Government has improved on the principle of timely auditing The National Audit Office has produced annual audit reports up to the financial year ended 30th June, 2016 I am reliably informed that audit of financial statements for the year ended 30th June, 2017 are in progress

ELECTRICITY
Mr Speaker, Sir, let me now turn to energy development I am speaking at a time when thousands of Malawians are suffering the pain of power shortage Our people are suffering the pain of failing to run businesses Many homes are in the dark for hours Barber shops for our young men are suffering In our villages everywhere, women have to wait for hours at maize mills while children wait for food back at home Life is no longer normal for everyone
Mr Speaker, the first step in solving a problem is to accept the problem Let us accept that we have a serious problem that we must solve collectively

Let us admit that this country is suffering consequences of neglecting the energy sector for many years Let us be honest to admit that we did not invest to expand our energy generation For fifty years, we kept thinking as if Malawi would remain what it was in the 1960s

As Government, we have accepted our responsibility I am here to make Malawi do what this country could not do in fifty years We must invest to expand power generation That is exactly what we are doing

Mr Speaker, Sir, our current installed capacity for electricity is
351 megawatts, and generation by Electricity Generation Company
(EGENCO) has, of late, fallen to 160 megawatts Priority for distribution of this 160 megawatts is given to essential service providers like referral hospitals and the water boards, which together consume a total of 70 megawatts leaving the remainder, of 90 megawatts, for distribution to industrial and domestic use, hence the frequent load shedding

Mr Speaker, Sir, Malawians are aware that major reforms to improve efficiency in the energy supply chain were implemented, including the unbundling of the old Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) in order to separate the generation from the transmission and distribution functions Through these reforms, opportunities have been created for independent power producers to invest in power generation using various technologies, in order to complement electricity generation by EGENCO

The reforms have also created an opportunity for Government to invest in new generation plants and expansion of the existing ones to meet electricity demands in this country We are targeting 2,500 megawatts in the next 10 years Yes, Mr Speaker Sir, developing a country demands patience

However, Mr Speaker Sir, my government understands that our people are facing serious difficulties They need power now as I speak
Therefore, we are acting on both short-term and long-term solutions

As an emergency cover, we are bringing in generators to boost our capacity by end of December There are several options being pursued both at ESCOM and EGENCO concurrently

In the medium term, we are pursuing the following measures:
▪ Installation of grid-connected solar power plants and diesel powered generators, with a total installed capacity of 70 megawatts and 78 megawatts, respectively, to be completed before the end of 2018; ▪ Rehabilitation of Nkula A and Tedzani III hydropower plants, to increase generation by a total of 22 Megawatts by the end of 2018; ▪ Construction of Tedzani IV Power Project with support from JICA, to generate a total of 18 megawatts after commissioning in 2020; ▪ Construction of Kam’mwamba coal-fired power plant, with a total generation capacity of 300 megawatts, to be completed in 2020; and ▪ Development of new hydropower plants at Mpatamanga, Fufu, Kholombidzo and Lower Songwe, which will add a total of 869 megawatts in the long term

The solar powered plant, diesel powered generators, the completion of rehabilitation works at Nkula A and Tedzani III by 2018 should give us an extra total generation capacity of 330 megawatts

As you can see, we are the Government that cares because we are addressing a problem which this country neglected for fifty years

Mr Speaker, Sir, let me also take this opportunity to announce that the World Bank has committed resources amounting to over USD200 million for expansion of access to electricity, especially in the rural to semi-urban areas, to complement the Malawi Rural Electrification Project We are the Government that is taking electricity to communities never reached before

HEALTHCARE
Mr Speaker, Sir, let me now move on to healthcare Healthcare is a top priority for us

I have good news Mr Speaker, Sir We have enough resources to meet the needs of the people In addition to MK125 billion that Government allocated to the health sector in the 2017/2018 financial year, Government is receiving various support from development partners

The Global Fund has recently approved a USD460 million grant for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria for January, 2018 to December, 2020

Government is also receiving a cash grant of USD47 million from GAVI to finance health systems and immunization for the next five years starting from July, 2017 GAVI will additionally support Malawi with
USD26 million in offshore vaccine procurement

Government is procuring medical equipment worth USD57 million with a grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for 49 health facilities across the country

Furthermore, the Health Services Joint Fund which comprises Germany, UK and Norway is supporting Government with approximately USD81 million to procure equipment for the other facilities that were not covered by the African Development Bank grant Additionally, the Indian Government has supported Malawi with USD500,000 to procure medical equipment for Mzuzu Central Hospital

Government is also procuring 12 digital X-Ray machines with funds from the Global Fund and another 6 digital X-ray machines with funds from the World Bank
The Health Services Joint Fund has also committed USD35million towards various health sector activities, including construction of health centres, purchase of medical equipment, support for service-level agreements with CHAM health facilities, support to Central Medical Stores Trust and operational support to districts
In addition, the Global Financing Facility of the World Bank has just announced a USD20 million grant in support of our Every Women Every Child programme

Mr Speaker, Sir, let me update this august house that the construction of the National Cancer Treatment Centre which we promised, is going on very well And our Foreign Direct Investment drive is bearing fruits with the construction of the DaeYang University Teaching Hospital, and others With the Cancer Centre, we will significantly reduce the cost of sending patients abroad by at least 50% For your information, this country has over 14,000 cancer patients

EDUCATION
Mr Speaker Sir, apart from health, education is another priority sector In my State of the Nation Address this year, I gave a comprehensive coverage of the progress we are making on infrastructure development in primary and secondary education, and also Community Technical Colleges Let me now comment what is happening in the university sector

University infrastructure is important because we are creating space for increasing access to university education Infrastructure is growing in public universities at a pace never known in our time

Go down to Chancellor College and see at least five infrastructure development projects under construction now Chancellor College is changing its face into a modern university We are talking about modern lecture theatres and laboratories, an ICT centre, a Business Centre and School of Economics under construction

Go to The Polytechnic and see a four-storey complex taking shape to house an ICT hub, an open distance learning centre and a business centre This should also help in changing the landscape of Blantyre

Go to Mzuzu University; go to the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), and you will see government at work Transformation has no alternative

I wish also to inform this House that we have begun to perform architectural wonders of what is to be Mombera University in Mzimba
Preliminary works have already begun

Mr Speaker, Sir, these projects are happening at the same time, under this government

PUBLIC SECTOR REFORMS
Mr Speaker Sir, let me at this point speak about the progress we are making in public sector reforms I will highlight a few developments

We are developing the Public Sector Reforms Policy and the Public Service Management Policy These policies will provide a comprehensive framework for consistent decision-making that will guide implementation of modern initiatives in line with best practices

Government has also undertaken to establish the Malawi School of Government by merging the Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) and Staff Development Institute (SDI) Our goal is to strengthen training for leadership and management in the public service The program will also promote a culture of ethics and discipline in the public service
The bill for establishing this school is drafted and will be presented to Parliament soon
Mr Speaker, Sir, we now have Integrated Public Service Centres in this country, and we call them Mlambe Centres They are now operational in Lilongwe and Mangochi In these centres, you will find all the services provided by the Post Office, Malawi Revenue Authority, Department of Immigration, Directorate of Road Traffic Services, the Registrar General, and soon, the National Registration Bureau

We are now moving to set up Mlambe Centres in Karonga, Mwanza, Mzimba, Blantyre, Salima, Mulanje and Mzuzu in the next phase And we have the commitment of funding from the World Bank for other 10 centres across the country
Mr Speaker, Sir, probably the most monumental of all reforms is the National Identity Card

This country has a national identification system which will transform the way we deliver services to the people As I speak today, over 9 million Malawian citizens aged 16 years and above, have been registered The cards are being delivered to the people We have delivered on this promise

Mr Speaker Sir, one more movement of transformation is happening quietly in this country We have taken services to the people Because we have taken services closer to the people, queries and needs are attended to more promptly than ever This Mr Speaker, is eliminating ghost workers This, Mr Speaker Sir, is called achieving efficiency in public service Let us remember the goal of public sector reforms is to achieve efficiency and effectiveness And let me remind Malawians, that I promise what I do and I do what I promise
Mr Speaker Sir, while some are wasting their time claiming that nothing is happening in this country, people know better out there I promised, Mr Speaker, roads, and roads I will deliver

ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
People can see that my government is constructing not less than 10 national roads totaling more than 500 kilometres

I am not talking about the many roads we are planning to construct I am talking about the roads we are constructing
People can see for themselves a new tarmac road stretching for 95km on the Lilongwe Old Airport–Kwanyanda – Santhe and Kwanyanda-Kasiya Road
We are completing this road by January, 2019

People can see the Thyolo–Makwasa –Thekerani –Makhanga Road under construction This is road is 82-km and started in August, 2016 We are completing this road in August, 2019

People can see new tarmac stretching for 102km on the Zomba-Jali-Phalombe-Chitakale road We are completing this road by August 2018

Those in the North can see construction under way on the 47km Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay road We are completing this road by 18 April 2018

Those in the East can see the 75km Liwonde – Mangochi Road making progress We are completing this road by August, 2018

The works on Karonga – Songwe started in September 2017 and that project will be completed by December 2018

In November 2016, we started constructing Njakwa – Livingstonia Road
The project is expected to be completed by May 2020

We are also starting the rehabilitation of M1 road from Lumbadzi towards Mzimba turn-off

We started all these projects in my time because I want to change the face of this country forever Except one road, we will complete all the projects within the first term of my government
And remember, we are soon starting the much needed Tsangano-Neno-Mwanza Road And we are also set to begin the Chingale Turn-Off to Lirangwe road

By the time we are finish these roads, this country will no longer be the same

CONCLUSION
Mr Speaker, Sir, there is no doubt that we are moving forward as a country despite whatever challenges we face Against all odds, we have achieved economic stability Let us now hold hands and rise above stability to pursue economic growth

Let us remember – that everyone must be accountable to someone for us to ensure equitable distribution of resources, which leads to inclusive economic growth and development

Let us promote the spirit of patriotism, integrity and hard work for us to achieve national prosperity Let us all rise to the occasion and stand on these pillars of progress

We must be the first to lead by example The people who voted for us are watching And the people will be watching us as we conduct our business in this House And the people will be the best judges

Mr Speaker Sir, let me close by underlining the importance of our responsibility in this House As Members of Parliament, we have an important role in national development As a country, we have reached economic stabilization Next is about economic growth and development
Members of Parliament have a duty to pass laws that will support growth and development

That is why I want to welcome the newly elected members to this august house

But on a sad note, Mr Speaker, let me express my condolences to this Honourable House and the bereaved family on the demise of Honourable Sam Ganda, who until his death on 16th May, 2017 was a Member of Parliament for Nsanje Lalanje Constituency

Let me also once again convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the 21 Malawi Defence Force soldiers and cadets who recently lost their precious lives in a tragic road accident on 2nd November, 2017 in Mzimba district This is a big loss to the Malawi Defence Force and the entire nation This was a national tragedy

May I ask the House to join me and stand up to observe a minute of silence in honour of the departed souls?

Shall we stand please!
(Minute of Silence)

May their Souls Rest in Peace!
With these remarks, Mr Speaker, I now declare the 47th Session of Parliament officially open

May the Almighty God bless us all

God bless Mother Malawi
Thank you, Mr Speaker, Sir

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One Thought to “Malawi President declares Parliament is not bigger than government on the occasion of opening the 47th session of the National Assembly”

  1. james odziwa

    Mutharika gives a civi lesson to Parlimenterians

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