The Centre for Democracy and Development Initiatives [CDEDI], has asked President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera to show servant leadership and share the pain with the masses noting with sadness sentiments from the presidents media team that the President appreciates the pain that has come with the independence of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority [MERA].
CDEDI says it find such remarks unfortunate and highly insensitive to the suffering masses saying it is time the President stopped the mockery on the suffering masses and start sharing the pain with the masses as per his pledge of servant leadership.
The organization says while implementing the austerity measures, the President and his Tonse Alliance administration should walk the talk by fulfilling the sugar-coated campaign promises such as the 1 million jobs, MK15,000 allowances per month for those aged 65 and above , reducing passport fees from MK90,000 to MK14,0000, the free water and electricity connection.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, CDEDI says if President Dr. Chakwera is sincere, he should stop being rhetoric and start being seen to care by embracing austerity measures such as cutting down or unnecessary local and internal travels, scrapping off unjustifiable fuel levies, trimming his Cabinet and the crowd of personal advisors, cutting his salary and other benefits and those of top government officials, among others.
…’’The obscene 1000 Liters of fuel per month for Cabinet ministers, advisors and senior government officials should disturbingly come to mind,’’…reads the statement in part.
CDEDI says it has noted with deep concern deepening plight of Malawians especially the rural masses owing to increasing cost of living aggravated by the recent increase in fuel prices, and challenges President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance administration to immediately introduce measures to cushion the suffering of vulnerable people.
The organization says the rising cost of living is being mirrored through skyrocketing prices of basic essential goods such as cooking oil, water and electricity, cost of mobile phone airtime charges, transport and internet bundles saying there is need to remind President Dr. Chakwera and his administration that any increase in fuel prices means more misery for the majority of Malawians.
It says Malawi’s fuel prices are the highest in the region due to punitive and unjustifiable taxes and levies which government imposed on the commodity saying every Litre of fuel includes the following levies; Regulatory levy, Rural Electrification levy, Road levy, Malawi Bureau of Standards [MBS], Storage levy, Distribution levy, the Price stabilization fund levy and MERA levy.
CDEDI has challenged government to scrap off some of the levies such as the construction of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority [MERA] office complex levy asking Malawians where is the wisdom in paying Malawi Bureau of Standards [MBS] levy when there is a MERA mobile van being used for the same purpose.
The organization says it is also a fact that the recent fuel hike has eaten much into the much-touted increase in the tax-free band, and the 15 percent salary increment for the public servants saying the situation is even worse for the unemployed and those whose business have been affected by the Government-initiated Covid-19 preventive measures.