House adjourns sine die

The last session of Parliament before elections came to an end on Friday after a two-week Mid-Year Budget Review meeting which was characterised by poor attendance.

But government chief whip and leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa said the 2014/2019 cohort of MPs delivered.

Lawmaker Juliana Lunguzi picks her bag to leave the House on Friday

“As government MPs, we believe we have done 90 percent of what we had planned and where there are shortfalls the next cohort will finish the business,” he said.

The cohort—the fifth since Malawi adopted multiparty democracy—adjourned sine die after passing five Bills in a record six hours.

Among the Bills approved is a loan authorisation from the Exim Bank of India amounting to $215 million (about K162 billion) for the construction of a new water intake on the Shire River and establishment of a 50 megawatt solar power plant and replacement of water distribution pipes.

The House also passed three Bills on the de-linking of the University of Malawi. The Malawi Polytechnic will now be called Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences while College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing have been combined and will now be called Malawi University of Health Sciences.

An attempt by opposition MPs to amend the Bills and take away powers of the President from being Chancellor of the University of Malawi was defeated.

The meeting, however, dragged on into the evening, after being extended for more than an hour-and-a-half to allow members of Parliament (MPs) to also deliberate on outstanding issues on the Order Paper.

Among the items was a Joint Committee report on the controversial Financial Services Act (Amendment) Bill.

The Bill, introduced in the House in November 2018 by Dowa West Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi, proposes, among others, the introduction of interest caps.

In his remarks, the committee’s joint chairperson Alekeni Menyani told the House that the committee recommends that the country should not legislate in the manner the Bill proposes, but rather regulate issues of interest rates to protect borrowers.

Another report was on a Bill on Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp, which was also presented in the House by Ntchisi North MCP lawmaker Boniface Kadzamira.

Since reconvening of the 47th Session of Parliament for Mid-Term Review on March 5 business in the House only passed three Bills until on Friday.

Some of the approved bills are the Malawi Engineering Institution, National Children’s Commission and a loan authorisation of $6 million for health, nutrition and child care.

In his winding up speech, leader of opposition Lobin Lowe described the meeting as a mixed bag.

The President is expected to dissolve Parliament on March 20, according to the Republican Constitution.

PHOTOGRAPH: NTCHINDI MEKI

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