Govt, not MPs will distribute food - DPM
LOBAMBA – Members of Parliament (MPs) are up in arms over government’s intention to discard them as a link to their constituencies where food distribution is concerned.
Since 2008, MPs were the ones who facilitated the distribution of food to the needy in their constituencies, but Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Themba Masuku disclosed to the House of Assembly yesterday that this was about to change.
Government would now distribute food using the Food for Work Programme.
In fact, the DPM’s office is already in partnership with World Vision for this initiative.
The Food for Work Programme requires individuals to perform tasks in community projects for 20 days before being given food parcels. However, this information did not seem to go down well with many MPs, because they felt this was government’s way of fighting them. "Government is always trying to find ways to suppress MPs. It’s obvious to me that government doesn’t want MPs to deliver in their constituencies. I’m asking the Speaker of the House to arrange an audience with His Majesty King Mswati III so we can report these things to him," said Nkilongo MP Trusty Gina.
Gina revealed that MPs have had a hard time in acquiring food at National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) depots to give to the underpriviledged in their communities.
"What should MPs do now? I’ve got people who are sick and cannot work and depend on me as their MP to provide food. They cannot work because they are not well. What am I supposed to do?" Gina wondered.
MP Macford Sibandze said government had shut the door in MPs’ faces by eliminating their role as a link to the people.
"Cabinet could faint if they could hear how much money we spend every hour on people who need help in our constituencies. Some of us get calls for help from as early as 5am. Removing our role weakens the structure of things," said Sibandze.
Meanwhile, the House decided to give the DPM time to compile a comprehensive report and table it next Wednesday. He is expected to liaise with the DPM Office’s Portfolio Committee chaired by MP Gina.