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Malawians must own ParliamentSpeaker Msowoya


Up close with demographics and, of course,
gender. This does not only
enrich the debate in the House
and House committees, but it
the way government casts
the National Budget and
implements it? What do you
think must change, to improve

the Speaker
also means that every cadre of things?
Malawians is represented. It The process that is happening
means that, at any point, an issue now, like the pre-budget
is being dissected from multiple consultations, is good because
perspectives. they are trying to get what the
Lilongwe Bureau Chief Samuel we want to be accessible. In public and key stakeholders want
Chunga engages Speaker of terms of challenges, Parliament You have talked about from the National Budget.
Parliament Richard Msowoya on a is still not as independent as it gender in your last question. From a parliamentary
wide range of issues: should be when one thinks of What are you doing to increase point of view, we spend two
legal representation and finances. womens representation in the weeks scrutinising the budget
Within your main opposition Parliamentary operations suffer House? Are there signs that through committees before the
Malawi Congress Party when our allocations are not such efforts are bearing fruit? Committee of Supply which
(MCP), and among the entire disbursed as approved and in time. For us, as Parliament, the further inquires into the budget
192 others in the National Legally, we are still represented one new thing we are doing is vote by vote. We are organising a
Assembly, how much of a by the Attorney General, who is on taking Parliament to the people. team of members of the Business
challenge was it for you to the Executive side of government; In my outings on this initiative, I Committee to visit two or so
emerge as Speaker? Did you the very arm of government to personally encourage women to other parliaments to see how the
ever harbour an ambition to which we provide checks and join frontline politics and contest process is handled and find out
hold this office? balances. This compromises the in parliamentary elections, so where we can improve on our
doctrine of separation of powers. Parliament can attract as many processes.
When I was returning to politics To resolve this, Parliament passed women as possible.
in 2013/2014, the Speakership a motion for more independence, After the high-octave
was not on my mind. After being and the Legal Affairs Committee Some two years ago, news confrontations between
chosen as Right Honourable Dr. has reviewed the state of affairs broke that First Deputy government and opposition
Lazarus Chakweras running mate, and will present a report. Speaker Esther Mcheka- members in the House, what
I was looking forward to serving Hopefully, this will lead to the Chilenje and Second Deputy socialisation and bonding
Malawi to the best of my ability by amendment of some laws leading Speaker Clement Chiwaya had activities does the National
supporting him as Vice President to a more independent Parliament, been receiving rental packages Assembly organise that enable
in the event that the Malawi as per the doctrine of separation of beyond their entitlements. members of the two camps
Congress Party (MCP) won the powers. What happened to the scam relaxing as friends?
and did it not embarrass your

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presidential elections. Some sessions in the House We have one restaurant where
When we did not win, my are heated and full of tension. office? they go and eat and interact.
focus changed to concentrating How do you handle such We have football and netball
on developing my constituency sessions and do you, and your It did embarrass the office matches that allow members to
of Karonga Nyungwe, making a two deputies, sometimes feel and Parliament, in general, interact. In fact, most of what
positive impact in Parliament as drained out for energy later? and the matter was reported to you call confrontations end
an MP and rebuilding the MCP As expected, there are times law enforcement agencies who right there on the floor. They
where I am the First Deputy when adjournment time is a Speaker Msowoya: I believe that if more citizens were proactively interacting and communicating their views to their MPs, more MPs would vote looked into the matter and came remain in the House.
President, elected alongside Rt huge relief due to the exhaustion more wisely rather than merely tow party lines. back to Parliament with their
Hon Dr Chakwera, the party that comes from refereeing over recommendations on how it Do you have any parting
president. heated debate. As a matter of leaders in the country need to participated in in 2004 to 2009. when it comes to the national gives the people the impression Service Commission. be sustained but also grown. should be handled and we have words?
When things turned out the principle, I treat all parliamentary shade off the tendency of being Of course, there is room for agenda. that the Parliamentarians To improve even further, we are complied. Yes. I want to appeal to
way they did, we consulted as matters as public and national untouchable by ordinary people, improvement in terms of the pace The Youth Parliaments absenteeism is somehow being installing an integrated electronic Last year, there was a Malawians to own, take more
a party, assessed the skills and issues, as opposed to personalising especially when the ordinary of deliberations and becoming discussions led to the change in tolerated by your administration monitoring system that will record suggestion for a change that You, yourself, were named interest, in their Parliament
experience in the team, following them. This serves two purposes. citizens want to hold the more evidence-based in our the legal age of marriage and is the and the MPs merely receive presence or absence and link these would see Wednesday as a full among well-to-do people who and support it. Malawi cannot
which the MCP President and First, I keep my emotions in leadership to account. What did approaches. These will be tackled reason why the problem of cheap their daily allowances without to the payment systems. This will Chamber day that starts from benefitted from a government develop if Malawians continue
our MPs settled on me. I faced check and, second, I adhere to the you mean? via capacity building and I believe alcohol sachets being all over the working for them. What is your ease the process. 9:30am, like the other full days, scheme that bought tractors believing that it is development
Honourable Francis Kasaila, the Standing Orders, irrespective of I meant that it is high time that that as our Members of Parliament place was addressed. take on this? Lately, we have seen several rather than it being a day when meant to help poor farmers partners who must provide the
DPP nominee, and I won. who is holding the floor. leaders in Malawi learnt to become (MPs) get more experience, the You know what? Ensuring that parliamentary committees Parliament conducts its business improve their agricultural requisite checks and balances
Three years down the line, Sometimes, we pre-empt accountable to Malawians. Those more they will improve. In this You are privileged to know, MPs are in the Chamber is the making accountability probes for only a half-day currently output. Instead, these and beat us into line when we
what successes and challenges tensions by having the Business of us holding leadership positions regard, to provide more and better through international visits and responsibility of party Whips. It on maize importation and other --from 2:00pm. This move was tractors were sold, on the stray.
have you experienced in your Committee meet ahead of shouldnt use our positions or support to Parliamentarians, we reports, what goes on in other is not the responsibility of the questionable procurement cases supposed to increase business cheap and irregularly, to top Malawians must stay on
post? contentious issues and arrive at a authority as a means of evading are increasing the number of Parliaments in other countries. parliamentary administration. in some ministries, departments time in the Chamber. Where are officials. Many call that as the top of developments, begin
Initially, the biggest consensus that is communicated accountability. While our culture clerks. Hopefully, this will result in How would you rate Malawis Therefore, when you see that the and agencies. Is this a healthy we on this one? Tractorgate Scandal. What diligently scrutinising the
challenge was donor apathy to the House before debate starts has taught us not to question higher quality, more focussed and parliamentary performance? Chamber looks empty, you and the development and is it sustainable? This has been included in the happened and hasnt that direction Malawi is going and
due to corruption and a lack of or when we have an impasse. leaders, the democracy we are better researched debates. public should take the party Whips This is exactly what MPs reviewed Standing Orders and embarrassed your office even strive to influencing positive
accountability in previous years. Let me add that having a sense enjoying demands that we should Within SADC (the Southern to task. are supposed to do under their once adopted by the House, the more? change by lobbying their MPs
As we speak, Parliament is now of humour helps because humour unlearn this tendency because In Malawi, we have a Youth Africa Development Community), What we are doing as oversight function. If MPs dont time will change. In the new Government advertised in the to formulate polices and laws
enjoying the support of almost does get people relaxed. without accountability, there can Parliament. What is its mandate we are rated fairly high. You Parliament administration, to do this, then they are failing session, that opens in November, press that they were selling the that will propel Malawi to
all the traditional donors. We got When everything fails, that is be no good governance. By the and what impact does it have will recall that our two women assist the Whips, is that we have Malawians. this issue should be addressed. tractors and any Malawian who prosperity. I believe that if
them back and they are providing when you see people being sent way, it is perfectly possible to on politics and development in Parliamentarians are chairing now instituted a system that Funding-wise, this is very needed a tractor and had the more citizens were proactively
financial and technical support out, to bring back order in the question authority without being Malawi? SADC parliamentary committees records those present and those sustainable as it is all provided for Does it matter to you that money to pay for it was eligible. interacting and communicating
for committee work, for the House. rude, one just needs to have ones on gender (Honourable Jessie absent. We provide these lists to in committee budgets. You will parliamentarians these tend This was the second tender. their views to their MPs, more
establishment of a parliamentary The important thing to note, facts and logic right. The Youth Parliament is a Kabwila and Honourable Patricia the Whips. Once the Whips have be interested to know that what to be professors, doctors and There were conditions that one MPs would vote more wisely
budget office and strengthening however, is when one is in the result of the call to give the youth Kainga). reviewed the lists, we deduct from is covered and reported on is not holders of other degrees? had to fulfil and one had to rather than merely tow party
the institution of Parliament. Chair, one has to be fair, objective How would you describe a platform. Since its establishment, the salaries of those MPs as guided all that happens. There is a lot of Our strength, as a House, lies meet those conditions. It was an lines. More MPs, from both sides
In addition to this, we have and consistent. the standard of debate in the the youth has deliberated on child Among other issues, by the Whips. work going on behind the scenes: in its diversity. It is, therefore, open tender, people participated of the House, would become
opened Parliament up to the House? labour, early marriages, traditional many people are concerned The committee of chairpersons conducting enquiries, conducting beneficial to have as much openly and the awards were done more industrious in their
media and to Malawians, both In one of your recent In my opinion, debate in the beliefs and practices that hinder with empty seats in the of parliamentary committees field visits to public institutions diversity as possible and a openly. oversight role and this would
in committee and in plenary. As pronouncements, you said House has been improving. In fact, their advancement in education House virtually throughout approved this system and it was and so on. These are major strides representation of all skills and help Malawi make giant leaps in
Parliament is the peoples House, the President and all other its better than the Parliament I and others, and not being heard parliamentary sessions. This adopted by the Parliamentary we have taken and must not only talents, backgrounds, religions, Are you satisfied with terms of development. n
5

The road to impeachment


SUZGO KHUNGA
Assistant Bureau Chief

I
n the life of the Malawi
Parliament, post-1994,
circumstances have dictated
the formulation of rules
and regulations governing the
activities of the House and this
became even more noticeable
in 2005 when Members of
Parliament discovered that the
Malawi Constitution did not
provide for procedures to be
followed for the impeachment
of a president or vice president.
Former Clerk of Parliament
(CoP) Roosevelt Gondwe says
the absence of procedures
for impeachment was not
strange as the drafters of the
Constitution had deliberately
restrained themselves from
providing for some procedures
in the Constitution. Instead,
they matter to Parliament.
Section 86(1) of the
Republican Constitution
stipulates that the President and
Vice-President shall be removed
from office where the National
Assembly has indicted and
convicted the President or Vice-

PHOTOGRAPHS: NATION
President by impeachment.
But the procedure for
impeachment shall be laid
down by the Standing Orders
of Parliament, provided that
they are in full accord with the
principles of natural justice. Bingu Wa Mutharika: Bakili Muluzi:
Then president Bingu Dodged impeachment His UDF party felt betrayed
wa Mutharika escaped
being the first victim of the President, except to say that the of 31st January 2012 to the Chief Justice, plays the role of casualties, most notably the
constitutionally sanctioned House shall appoint an Adhoc House, stated: The Committee the go between of Parliament collapse and subsequent death
impeachment when the party Committee to draw up rules of endorsed the insertion of new and issue the notice of of the then Speaker Rodwell
that sponsored him to the procedure for removing officers provisions that would fill the impeachment to the President Mnyenyembe in June 2005.
seat, the United Democratic mentioned in the Constitution. gaps apparent in the current and Vice President. The Speaker died four days
Front (UDF), demanded his The motion which UDF Standing Orders. One such It is the Chief Justice who after he collapsed in the House
removal on the grounds that legislator Lucius Banda moved provision is procedure for the constitutes a tribunal where a short while after ruling that
he had flouted the Constitution marked the showdown between removal of the President or the president or vice president the impeachment motion could
by forming his own party, the Mutharika and UDFs Bakili Vice President under Rule 237 is called to appear to respond to not be tabled for the reason that
Democratic Progressive Party Muluzi who were bitter at and 238, Gondwe said. the allegations and determines there were no procedures.
barely eight months after his the president for ditching the The procedure for removal of if there is a case to impeach What followed were angry
election. party and allegedly targeting the President or Vice President the President or Vice President exchanges and commotion in
In a move in which the UDF heavyweights in his anti- as laid down in Standing Orders after which the House can the House and in an effort to
idiomatic expression there corruption drive. now provides for a motion to pass a resolution with two bring order to the House by
is strength in numbers rang The impeachment motion, be signed by one third of MPs thirds majority to remove the standing up, Mnyenyembe
true with UDF and Malawi which failed on account of submitted to the Speaker seven President. collapsed from what was later
Congress Party dominating insufficient procedures, led to days before moving the motion. I would say that discovered to be a stroke and
the numbers in Parliament, it the impeachment procedures In conformity with Section circumstances have a subsequent cardiac arrest.
was the deficiency in Standing which have become part of the 86 (2), the Standing Orders connection to procedures of Other losers in the
Orders that eventually saved Standing Orders, adopted in clearly specify that the motion the House as the impeachment impeachment debate turned
Mutharika. 2013. must contain allegations rules demonstrate, the former out to be Malawians because
Gondwe remembers that by The 2004 to 2009 House did of serious breaches of the COP said. the death of Mnyenyembe and
2005, the Malawi Parliament not resolve the issue. The issue
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Power play in
SUZGO KHUNGA
Assistant Bureau Chief

T
here was a characteristic to
the debate on the Budget
versus Section 65, which
dominated parliamentary

parliamentary numbers
proceedings in 2007.
But as the nation came to
learn, the might of government
does not just lie in the
numbers, but in powers of
propaganda and the possibility
that the errant member
of Parliament denying
Malawians the budget would
lose their seats in the next
election.
In the recent life of this
Parliament, there have been
several occasions when MPs
have used their numbers to
push their agenda, but not
always for the greater good.
In 2007, Malawi Congress
Party (MCP), United
Democratic Front (UDF) and
independent MPs used their
numerical strength to push
for the expulsion of MPs who
flocked to the government
side when president Bingu
wa Mutharika dumped the
UDF to form his Democratic
Progressive Party (DPP).
About 60 UDF members
and 20 from MCP defected to
DPP, an action that led to the
opposition numbers dropping
to about 110.
Using their numbers, the
opposition demanded that
MPs who had crossed the
floor should be expelled using
Section 65 of the Constitution,
which forbids crossing the
floor or the budget would not
be passed.
What followed was an
impasse resulting in Mutharika
suspending Parliament out of
frustration and interventions
from the clergy.
A defiant Mutharika refused
to sign a memorandum of
understanding which would
have compelled government to
lift the injunction stopping the
Speaker from implementing
Section 65 on the DPP MPs and
instead proposed a referendum Its a game of numbers: Parliament in session
on the Budget versus Section
65 issue. really been used for the Code were also unanimously the strength of numbers in personally affect them, among
A similar occurrence took good of transparency and approved, driving minority the 2007/08 budget meeting them salary and allowance
place in 2012 when ousted accountability to the people of rights further on the when a strong opposition increases and demanding an
vice president Joyce Banda Malawi? peripherals of rights and successfully denied them increase to the Constituency
formed Peoples Party (PP), If the passing of bad laws freedoms. funding when the budget was Development Fund.
which came into power in between 2010 and 2011, when It was the DPP government, passed with a nominal K1 Earlier in 1995, the House
April on the death of Bingu wa the DPP government enjoyed a buoyed by its numbers, that allocation to MBC and TVM. unanimously approved the
Mutharika. massive majority in Parliament proposed and passed the In denying the repeal of Section 64 of the
The DPP had the numbers, is anything to go by, then the Injunctions Act, also known broadcasters funding, the Constitution which outlined
but PP did not and history answer is no. as Civil Procedure (Suits by or opposition MPs argued that how a Member of Parliament
started repeating itself. Using their numbers, against the Government and MBC and TVM were being could be removed from his seat
This time around the tables coupled with a placid Public Officers) preventing used as propaganda tools by the by the constituents.
had turned. The DPP majority, opposition, Parliament court injunctions against the DPP government. The section empowered
which the party enjoyed after amended Section 46 of the government. At the time, the two popular constituents to petition the
2009 elections was trimmed to Penal Code granting powers to But a large opposition programmes on the State Electoral Commission to recall
a Minister of Information to broadcasters, which irked the
12

PEOPLES
VIEWS
PARLIAMENT
W e
Under the microscope
e x p e c t o u r I dont think they are doing a
parliamentarians to go there and wonderful job, especially when it
represent us, but I guess all we comes to their pledges as regards
get is a raw deal from them. development projects. Most just
They tend to prioritise personal promise for the sake of votes, but they
and party agendas than us; our are indifferent whenever in the House.
needs. This is the main reason They rarely comment on issues; only
we continue to call upon them going with the flow when giving out
to be staying with us in their constructive criticism would have
respective constituencies than done. And when government pledges
elsewhere. That way, they would some development projects in their
understand our needs better and, areas, they rarely make follow-ups
in turn, may represent us better. and, in the end, we just hear that the
Edith Chidziko-Chindozi funds meant for that particular project
(Lilongwe) vanished into thin air.
Wilfred Chibwana (Dowa)

I wish our parliamentarians


Parliament, in general, has failed us over realised how sacred their role
Personally, I am not impressed
the years. The only thing they seem to is in this country, so as not to
with how the House conducts
make progress on is on their perks. Most waste taxpayers money on
of the parliamentarians tend to shun their business. Most times, its all trivia. Deliberations should be
constituents once ushered into power. An about them and never about issue-based and not castigating
example can be that of a primary school us. They would rather discuss each other while the hours pass
teacher whose welfare is rarely considered in
how to make the most of the away. We also have a feeling that
the House despite them being supposed to be
at the helm of the countrys socio-economic Constituency Development some MPs have overstayed their
development. Of course, not all MPs are Fund (CDF) and their sitting welcome in the House; hence the
under-performing. Others are sometimes business as usual approach to
allowances than improving the
frustrated by the system. Otherwise; they issues. Also, their fat allowances
seem to be progressive in their thinking welfare of their constituents.
are not deserved; they ought to
and action. That alone gives me some hope Bl e s s i n g s Kambalame have been attendance-based.
Donnex Banda (Mchinji) (Mulanje) Sylvester Mkungula (Dowa)
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What is in new parliamentary Standing Orders?


SUZGO KHUNGA
Assistant Bureau Chief

T
he proposed new
Standing Orders have
attempted to address
challenges observed
since 2013 when the last
procedures were amended
and adopted by the House
then.
Among these is the new
Standing Order outlining
the modalities for the
President to appear before
Parliament to answer
questions from members
in conformity with the
Constitution.
The current Standing
Orders do not specify the
day, length of question
time and the number
of questions which the
President would be
compelled to take at each
sitting.
Section 89 (4) of the
Constitution states that
for a president to appear
in Parliament is dependent
on whether the House
has adopted a motion
that specifically invites
the president to come to
Parliament.
Several administrations,
especially the current
Democratic Progressive
Party (DPP), have shot
Speaker Richard Msowoya welcomes President Peter Mutharika to Parliament
down attempts to call
President Peter Mutharika
to adhere to Section 89 (4)
designated for government Rampant absenteeism, On bills, government then and, therefore, this
and Section 89 (3) arguing
bills and committee reports, which has characterised has taken advantage of requirement gives members
that the questions to the
ministers are sufficient. which are currently tabled the just ended Parliament the allowance to waive of inadequate notice period,
But according to the without procedure or order. meeting will be addressed Standing Orders to table the report reads.
proposed SO 68 (4): The questions to with clearly outlined legislation before the 28 The new Standing
Questions to the President ministers for oral replies disciplinary procedures, days notice elapses but Orders have also
shall be taken on a on Thursdays would be including forfeiture of with the proposal, the attempted to make cluster
Wednesday at least once removed and the day allowances for the days length of the notice for meetings during budget
in each Meeting of the designated for private that the member was bills would start when meetings more relevant
Assembly or by a resolution members business only. absent without written bills are presented to MPs by allowing reports from
of the House. The current practice has permission as well as a not after being gazette. the deliberations to be
A maximum of five quite often resulted in lack reprimand right in the The Legal Affairs presented to the House
questions, and five of adequate question time House. Committee noted that instead of the current
supplementary questions, for the House to handle In the current Standing currently, notice starts set up where reports are
would be taken on each pure private members Orders, forfeiture of from the day that a bill incorporated into the report
sitting day and the question business, the report reads. allowances was provided is gazetted, which was of the Budget and Finance
time for the President The new Standing for as a sanction, but there problematic because Committee.
would be one hour thirty Orders have also proposed was no way to capture government would The Legal Affairs
minutes and no extension adoption of procedures for information on attendance distribute the bills closer Committee had envisaged
of question time shall be secret voting on a division of members to be used to to the elapsing of the 28 that the Standing Orders
permitted, according to SO so that MPs do not vote invoke the penalty. days. would be adopted before
68 (5 and 6). against their consciences, The Standing Orders The committee feels the end of 2018, so they