Independents eye Speaker’s role

Thirty independent members of Parliament (MPs) met in Lilongwe yesterday and strategised on having some from their fold vie for the positions of Speaker, First Deputy Speaker or Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

Meeting on the sidelines of the five-day orientation of MPs elected in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, the independents brainstormed for over one and a half hours on how they can propel their own bloc members to the House’s leadership positions.

Tembo: Let’s work as a team

The development comes against a background of both Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) claiming to have wooed some of the independents to their fold. DPP claimed to have lured 30 independents who met President Peter Mutharika at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre two weeks ago while MCP said 18 independents had agreed to work with the party.

During the elections, 55 seats in the 193-seat Parliament were won by independents. DPP won 62 while MCP got 55 seats.

At their meeting, the independents advised each other to indicate their academic and professional achievements. The general consensus was that the bloc comprises competent people capable of leading the House, particularly because voting is by secret ballot and dependent on a candidate’s profile.

Independents that gave the motivation thoughts included Ephraim Kayembe (Dowa West), Nancy Tembo (Lilongwe City South West), Madalitso Fred Kazombo (Kasungu East) and Emmanuel Jere (Mzimba South).

In his address after Parliament Secretariat distributed nomination forms for the positions of Speaker, First Deputy Speaker and Second Deputy Speaker, Kazombo, a chartered accountant who has worked as a senior auditor in the private sector, expressed interest to contest.

He said: “Let’s have our own Deputy Speaker. Let’s have a commissioner in the Parliamentary Service Commission. Let’s be in committees.

“I am interested in the First Deputy speakership. Committees for consideration for independent candidates should be Health, Agriculture, Public Accounts, Climate Change, Public Appointments and Transport.”

Kayembe supported the proposal and pledged to support independent MPs with his experience in the House. He expressed interest to vie for the position of Second Deputy Speaker.

In his contribution, 35-year-old Jere said his strength is in the fact that he is youthful, politically neutral and energetic. He urged those who will lose in the leadership contests to support fellow independent MPs in the desired positions.

Tembo, who also said she was interested in becoming the First Deputy Speaker, suggested that there should be another meeting to make nominations through a secret ballot.

She said: “Let’s work as a team. Let’s be fair.”

Mathews Ngwale of Chiradzulu West asked the bloc to be united by ensuring that one name is proposed for each of the three leadership positions.

Besides DPP, MCP and independents, United Democratic Front (UDF) secured 10 seats, People’s Party (PP) has five, UTM won four and the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) got one seat.

The legislators will be sworn in on Monday and Tuesday before they elect the leaders ahead of the opening of the 48th Session of Parliament next Friday.

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