Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe surprised and shocked child rights activists in the country when he disapproved a private members bill which seeks to set up a National Children’s Commission to step up the protection of children in the country.
The bill was moved by Lilongwe central MP Robin Lowe of main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as a private member’s bill on Thursday to address issues affecting children and how to protect the children.
However, Speaker of parliament Richard Msowoya said bills of that nature needed the blessing of the government and asked Gondwe to comment on whether the bill should go ahead or not.
But Gondwe said the government has no money to fund the commission and threw out the bill.
“We have no money from the consolidated fund for such a thing,” he said.
Gondwe said: “ I have not been consulted on this Bill. I would like to say any commission of this nature would have an imposition on the Consolidated Fund. As such, with the programmes that we have at the moment, this is not time for us to add more bodies to rely on the Consolidated Fund.
“I would therefore, not encourage that we proceed with this Bill.”
Gender,minister Cecilia Chazama said Lowe did not follow the right procedures before tabling the bill.
He said he was warned before hand not to table the bill but he disregarded the advice, saying such bills should be authorized by the government.
The chairman of the Social and Community Services Richard Chimwendo Banda asked for a meeting of the Business Committee, the political leadership of the House which was granted.
“It is unfortunate that we want to abandon this important Bill,” he said.
Henry Machemba, child rights activist said he was shocked with the decision by the government to shoot down the bill.
He said child rights organisations in the country spent huge sums of money on consultative meetings across the country for the establishment of the commission which he said was vital for the protection of children in the country.