LILONGWE—Hush! You need to hear this because it doesn’t happen often or rather enough in Malawi otherwise noisy parliament.
Two lawmakers, one from the ruling party and the other from the opposition had the attention of parliament as they debated devaluation of the Malawi’s currency, the Kwacha.
Khwauli Msiska (Karonga Nyungwe, Aford) said the currency would be devalued before
the end of the year while Sosten Gwengwe (Dedza Central, DPP) said evidence didn’t show any benefits for such action.
Lying to the people wasn’t the right thing to people, said Msiska.
"We are treading on a dangerous path if we don’t want to be truthful. Not long ago, it was almost obscene to relate the fuel crisis to foreign exchange until one courageous Minister told us to start getting used to this," Msiska said.
"Even senior Government officials are using the informal market to access foreign exchange where the value to a dollar is somewhere K270 to K300. I expected to hear an alternative to devaluation or what happens after three years should the home grown policies fail."
Because banks don’t have foreign exchange, it was in fact the black market that was determining the prices of basic needs as people are buying the dollar at a higher rate.
The International Monetary Fund has said Malawi’s currency is overvalued which discourages potential investors. Malawi feels further devaluation would hurt the poor most. Pres Bingu wa Mutharika, whose government introduced what’s called the Zero Deficit Budget, which supposed to be financed by local revenues, wants more
time – three years – for the program to work.
Gwengwe said the previous devaluation failed to improve the economic climate in the country and those pushing for it only want to make the government unpopular as prices will get even higher.
"Our poverty as a nation wouldn’t be a priority to the United Kingdom. We should stop living beyond our means and start to live on our own resources,” said Gwengwe. “Those fighting the Zero Deficit Budget haven’t suggested an alternative way which would be perpetual and indefinite begging, I refuse to be part of such thinking."
Ruling party lawmakers liked this. They cheered on Gwengwe who said the ZDB had started showing results given the figures of recurrent expenditure and revenues, saying Malawi eventually become an independent and stable economy. Malawi would thus be able to deliver the development the country deserves.
Not so fast, said Joseph Njobvuyalema (Lilongwe Mapuyu South).
Gwengwe was living in a different universe, he said, pointing out that life for ordinary Malawians today was already tough and it would be better deal with the problem sooner rather than later.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment