The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Shadow Minister of Labour Joseph Nomale says President Lazarus Chakwera has graduated from a Pastor to a Dictator.
Nomale made the remarks in a statement after President Chakwera signed the controversial Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill 2021, which, among others, limits the period for industrial action (strike) by employees to three (3) days.
The act also gives employers the right to deduct wages of employees who have been staging a sit in for three consecutive days.
According to Nomale, framers of the Labour Relations Act sought to promote sound labour relations through the protection and promotion of freedom of association, the encouragement of effective collective bargaining and the promotion of orderly and expeditious dispute settlement, conducive to social justice and economic development.
“I dare say that by assenting to this draconian bill into law, President Chakwera has finally graduated from a Pastor to a Dictator. He has demonstrated that he is a President who can lie, considering that when the Bill was first introduced, he cheated civil servants and all Malawians that he was not aware of the Bill.
“This was a blue lie because all government Bills generated by the Executive arm of Government pass through Cabinet before they are brought before Parliament.
By proceeding to assent to the controversial Bill, President Chakwera has displayed to us that is an arrogant man. He does not like to take advice from the people who gave him and his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) the mandate to lead them,” said Nomale
He further said: “This law has the capacity to reverse the democratic gains made over the past 20 years. It is an attack against the governance architecture of our Constitution and the freedoms that symbolize modern day democratic Malawi.”
Nomale added that President Chakwera Tonse Alliance government wants to deny workers the freedoms and rights that Malawians fearlessly fought for in the early 1990s.
“It is regrettable to witness the Tonse Alliance government deliberately diluting the democratic gains achieved over past two decades with reckless abandon.
Assenting to this Bill is very disappointing, especially considering that the government did not make proper consultations with relevant stakeholders and the labour movement in this country to reach a consensus on how workers can seek redress over employment related grievances,” he concluded.
After the bill was passed in Parliament, trade unionists denounced the move and asked President Chakwera not to assent to the bill until some amendments were made.
In July this year, Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) leaders claimed that Chakwera had told them that he would not accept a bill that did not go through proper consultations.