Phungu Wanga Project launched to address citizens’ lack of knowledge on roles of MPs: “To eliminate ‘MP agula bokosi’ syndrome”

Speaker of the Parliament of Malawi, Catherine Gotani Hara, has lamented that lack of knowledge by citizens on the roles, duties and functions of members of Parliament (MPs) continues to hinder progress in consolidating democracy and good governance in Malawi.

Hara made the remarks in Mchinji on Tuesday where she presided over the national launch of the My MP (Phungu Wanga) Project.

Save the Children International (SC) and the Centre for Civil Society Strengthening CCSS) are jointly implementing the project with financial support from the European Union (EU).

The major objective of the project, which will be implanted in Balaka, Mchinji and Rumphi, is to empower MPs and parliamentary staff to better serve their constituents and fulfill their essential roles in governance of this nation.

Speaking to people that witnessed the launch [of the project], Speaker Hara challenged the implementers to help in addressing the long-standing distorted information voters have on the roles and functions of the elected officers.

“Constituents need to know that it is not the role of the MP to buy coffins. It is not the duty of the MP to buy nappies for the newly born baby of a voter,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the implementing institutions, SCI Country Director Ashebir Debebe said the project demonstrates their commitment to enhancing the capacity of the parliamentary system to uphold its critical functions of oversight, legislation, and representation.

Debebe stated that by equipping MPs with the necessary tools and resources, the organizations aim to ensure that government services are delivered efficiently, in accordance with established policies and laws, and to the satisfaction of the Malawians.

Hara: The project has come at the right time as Malawians prepare for the next General Elections in September 2025

“As we all know, Parliament represents the people of Malawi and therefore this project aims at taking Parliament closer to the citizenry. It will contribute to improving the relationship with people thereby improving the public perception. In the end, the people will be proud of their Member of Parliament,” he said.

The SCI Country Director thanked the Parliament of Malawi for its strong cooperation and support throughout the development of this project through sharing of information and the spirit of collaboration, which he said was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.

Debebe expressed optimism that their collaboration with MPs will bring parliament and its services to the people at the grassroots.

“More importantly, we look forward to ensuring that children, women, people with disabilities and communities at large are actively engaged and ensure their issues are taken up by our honourable MPs through their legislative, oversight, and representation roles.  We look forward to experiencing strong governance outcomes that can contribute towards the improved lives of our people where their rights are not only respected but also protected and fulfilled,” he said.

EU Head of Delegation to Malawi, Ivo Hoefkens, observed that Malawians have growing interest to know what is happening in their country beyond casting their ballots.

Hoefkens therefore said the coming in of the My MP Project will play an important role in shaping the future of the country in areas of civic engagement and democratic awareness.

“It is my hope that this project will empower citizens to demand accountability and improved services from their government through their elected leaders. By its very name, this project demonstrates a need to cultivate a strong relationship, a set in pride between constituents and their elected officials,” he said.

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