MPs represent citizens

 

As Parliament is in session, our reporter AYAMI MKWANDA engages Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa on various parliamentary affairs.

Nakhumwa: Leadership of the House is discussing absenteesm

Q: Following the rejection of the Electoral Reforms Bills in the last sitting, will government re-table them now?

A

: Government is not re-tabling the bills this time around—maybe in the future. The rejection of the bills meant that the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs [Samuel Tembenu] should go back and re-draft the bills. Re-drafting takes a lot of time. Therefore, the bills will not be re-circulated or re-tabled this time.

Q

: Time is running out for the bills to be passed into laws the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) can use next year.  Are you doing justice to the electoral process?

A

: As I said, I am not too sure when the Minister of Justice will be ready with the bills. The question you have asked me now connecting the bills to next year’s elections [2019], I think that question can best be answered by the electoral commission.

Q

: What other bills will government table during this sitting?

A

: Notably, much as we have come for the Mid-Term Review of the national budget which will be tabled in Parliament on Friday, I am aware of four other important bills government will be tabling. Firstly, we have Electoral Commission Amendment Bill. You remember this Bill was part of the electoral reforms, but it was referred to Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs. Now we are told that the parliamentary committee is ready with the report. But also we have the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners’ Bill.  The report is ready. We might have other bills like Public Audit Amendment Bill. And of course if we have time, we may come up with the National Intelligence Service Bill. So those are some of the bills that we expect this time around.

Q

: How do you intend to address massive absenteeism, a worrisome trend noted in this and

previous sittings of Parliament?

A

: The leadership of the House—the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Leader of the House, the Leader of Opposition, Government Chief Whip and other whips of the House—are discussing the matter. The recommendations will be made soon. Our chief whips are taking that seriously and there will be recommendations from the leadership of the House. We hope they will give us a report this time around and some recommendations for the Speaker to act upon.

 

Q

: Do you care about the cost of absenteeism to the nation?

A

: MPs are elected by people in their constituencies to go to the National Assembly to discuss issues of national importance. It is the understanding that MPs will be present in the august House as this is the place where they work. It is therefore, sad to say that by being absent in Parliament, the development of the constituency and the nation will be affected in one way or another.

 

Q

: In some countries a president is summoned to appear before Parliament to answer questions. Is President Peter Mutharika ready to come in the subsequent sessions or even now?

A

: I have not been informed that any member of Parliament (MP) has submitted questions to the Speaker to be transmitted to the President. If I have that information, I will let you know because the procedure is whoever has got questions will submit to the Speaker.

 

Q

: On impeaching the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya which the Deputy Speaker quashed, have you received any communication from any MP or party on the issue?

A

: I have heard the rumours in Parliament. I heard some MPs who came to floor expressing themselves that they are aware that some Malawi Congress Party (MCP) MPs would want to impeach the Speaker, but so far I have not received any communication or motion to impeach the Speaker. Neither am I aware of any violations he is alleged to have committed. If indeed it is true that there will be such a motion, that motion will not just be introduced haphazardly in the House. It will have to go to the Business Committee first. When we receive it in the Business Committee that is when we are going to see the violations which are there, but so far I am not aware of any violations and we have not received any motion.

 

Q

: Any remarks to the general public?

A

: As parliamentarians, we will try to represent the people who sent us to that august House and we need the support from the media, civil society, community leaders and the general public to help us so that we together tackle issues that are relevant to national development.n

 

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