BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Malawi’s lawmakers have woken up from their slumber and have demanded detailed information from the Ministry of Finance on how state owned companies were sold under privatization programme some years ago.
Privatisation, a programme which was championed by the former first democratically elected President Bakili Muluzi, saw many Malawians losing jobs as government owned companies were sold to private businesspersons, most of whom were foreigners.
The demand follows the adoption of a motion by Member of Parliament for Mzimba North Yeremia Chihana. He said there was need for Parliament to appreciate how the exercise was conducted and if Malawians have benefited from the exercise.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Chihana said most companies were sold to foreigners at undervalued prices and that a lot of Malawians lost their jobs. Other lawmakers suggested that Government should repossess such companies.
According to Chihana, the Public Private Partnership Commission which is supposed to report to the House on the status of privatisation on an annual basis has never done that since it was instituted.
“Since the privatisation of government companies in the early 90s, Malawians don’t know how much was realised and how the money was used.”
Chihana expressed concern that most companies were sold along with vast pieces of land, a development he argued was irregular.
“It is high time Malawians know what happened with the money from their companies, that is why we recommend a commission of inquiry to investigate how the process was handled and what is the current status of the deals.”
Some of the notable government owned companies that were privatised include, Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL), Malawi Railways, Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons, Malawi Savings Bank and Chipiku Stores.
In the year 2000, it was reported that Malawi’s four-year old privatisation programme had earned the government of President Bakili Muluzi about US $21.7 million from the sale of 35 state-owned enterprises.