Ministry shoots down Child Commission Bill .. Says it duplicates its functions

Lilongwe: Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Cecilia Chazama, has described Bill No. 1 of 2018, National Children’s Bill as duplicating the already existing functions of the ministry and other partners in child protection and care.

The minister made the remarks in Lilongwe on Monday at a press briefing on the Bill.

She said much as the Bill is an important move to help children, it creates a parallel entity which will duplicate the already existing initiatives undertaken by the ministry.

She said what the ministry is looking for is not a parallel entity but a complementary one which would ensure that the gaps which exist in the ministry are addressed.

Chazama said the ministry is already there for the functions proposed in the bill, hence no need for the creation of a special commission on children but rather there should be a lobby for more funding in order to fill the gaps existing in addressing child issues.

What we find wrong is the duplication of functions and composition of the board. We are not looking for the creation of an entity when already we are having challenges with resources, she said.

The minister said all functions proposed in the bill are already taken and implemented by relevant government ministries, departments and agencies as well as development partners.

She observed that what the ministry is looking at is having something which should have different functions from what the ministry is already doing.

We need to have something with different functions from what development partners are doing, different from what Malawi Human Rights Commission and other NGOs both local and international are doing to help and improve service delivery, said Chazama.

The Bill was on Thursday last week referred to two relevant committees of Parliament for further scrutiny and consultations as it lacked proper backing such as commitment letter from Ministry of Finance, according to Chazama.

She said she felt referring the bill to relevant committees of Parliament would ensure that proper consultations be made. She added the house would not want to have a Bill which has amendments on each and every clause but rather something which has been properly done.

Chazama said implementation of government programmes and policies is done by relevant line ministries and in the case of children, it is her ministry which does that.

As a ministry, we are already having gaps and challenges and we are saying why should we create another entity? We don’t want that. We want the same existing structures to be supported so that we perform our duties and proper service delivery to the people at grassroots level, she said.

The Bill, which seeks to establish a national children’s commission was brought to the August House as private members motion by Member of Parliament for Lilongwe Central. Robin Lowe.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA