The no confidence vote which was taken against the Minister of Communication, Science and Technology Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal on March 1, 2021 being still fresh in our minds, Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, Zaha Waheed has become next minister to be targeted by politicians.
The motion to remove Minister Zaha was filed on March 10, 2021 with the votes of 10 Parliament Members, of which 8 signatures were by the MPs filling the seats on a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) ticket, while the other two members are MP of Kaashidhoo constituency Abdullah Jabir and MP of Guraidhoo constituency Ibrahim Riza.
The motion detailed the cause of filing for a no confidence vote as failure to provide a fair price for fisherperson’s catch, and failure to arrange for those who go out to fish to receive payments in dollars. It was also added that the pledges to improve the economy of the country, and to establish yellow fin tuna huts and neighbourhood fish factories have also not been fulfilled.
Highlighting more government pledges, the motion stationed that while Minister Zaha is unable to perform her duties, her continued time in office would only prove to be detrimental to those working in the fishing industry and their families.
Minister Zaha has come under criticism of both ruling and opposition party parliamentarians since she took on office. Kaashidhoo MP, Abdulla Jabir, who also signed on Minister Zaha’s no confidence motion had questioned the minister on several occasions in parliament and criticized her on the ministries works to support fishermen of Maldives.
Member of Kaashidhoo constituency Abdulla Jabir had previously questioned Minister Zaha stating that the local fishermen left on the streets in dire conditions in contradiction to the presidential pledges to fishermen as the government has closed the doors for the benefits available to the them through the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement.
He had also questioned why Minister Zaha has been idle and lie to the fishermen instead of working to deliver the presidential pledges as promised during the campaign.
In addition to this Parliament’s Regulations Committee had also found Minister Zaha neglectful of her duties earlier this year following its review of the failure of the Fisheries Ministry to create many of the regulations required under the Fisheries Act – regulations which must be established within 90 days of the legislature’s enactment. Speaker of Parliament, Nasheed had also said that Minister Zaha had failed as a minister and that the next step is clear reffering to a no-confidence.
While looking at the past, Minister Zaha has been under an equal amount of criticism from both the ruling party, MDP which holds the super majority in parliament and the opposition compared to the Former Minister Maleeh. Maleeh was also criticized for similar reasons stating that he had failed to draft the necessary guidelines and regulations mandated to his ministry by law.
The motion to remove Maleeh was submitted by the Parliamentary Group leader of MDP Ali Azim. The Parliamentary Group (PG) of the leading governing coalition party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voted in favor of moving forward with a no confidence vote against Minister Maleeh with 14 members signing the motion.
The no confidence motion matter forwarded to the PG with the signatures of ten members read that with the two years that Minister Maleeh has been in office, he has failed to formulate any of the policies mandated in the Telecommunications Act, to be followed by the offices which fall under the Ministry.
It also read that, while the said policies are vital in regulating the telecom industry of the country, each passing day without the policies would result in insurmountable damage caused to the state as well as the public.
Further, it was highlighted that Minister Maleeh extended no assistance to the political appointees and other employees of the Ministry in formulating these policies and that it is evident that the Ministry clearly hindered the process as well.
Former Minister Maleeh also maintained that only a few members have signed the motion and that the no-confidence motion was submitted due to a speech he gave on a TV program and not because he did not implement regulations or the ability to do his job. Maleeh said that there is no constitutional standing for the no-confidence motion which was taken against him.
The Former Minister of Communication, Science and Technology Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal had defended himself stating that allegations that he had unjustly fired employees who were responsible for creating the guidelines. Instead, he had fired three political appointees under the President Solih’s “Zero Tolerance to Corruption” policy. The fired employees include a State Minister, Deputy Minister and Executive Director.
The country is more important to me than my job. I will sacrifice my job to fight for the constitutional rights.Minister Maleeh
He also questioned the ruling party, MDP, as to the real reason behind the no confidence motion, and accused the party of only advocating for justice when they are the opposition, and asked to practice justice when they are in power as well.
The no confidence vote against the Maleeh had initially come following his comments aimed at the parliamentary group of MDP on a TV program, in which he said that the parliament members cannot dictate how the government should do it’s job and that no such policy can also be formulated. He had said that the current parliament is trying to gain control over other institutions much like the Supreme Court back in Former President Abdulla Yameen’s presidency.
Maleeh’s remarks had attracted harsh criticism by MDP parliament members and the general public. One MP had said that in the past two years, Minister Maleeh’s only notable achievement was to grow a variety of chilies on his home terrace and that he had not done any substantial work as a minister.
Following various debates on social media and even at the parliament, Maleeh’s fate was left at the parliament floor where he was kicked out of his position with 48 votes. The question now is if Minister Zaha’s fate would be the same or whether she would be saved from the no-confidence vote as how Home Minister Imran was saved from by MDP.