MPs asked to focus on nation-building

A British parliamentarian has asked newly-elected legislators to strive to serve all Malawians across the political divide by cooperating with fellow members of Parliament (MPs) towards achieving nation-building goals.

Scottish Government member of Cabinet and parliamentarian Margaret Curran expressed the sentiments in Lilongwe yesterday in a keynote address to the new MPs and others who got re-elected in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

Some of the MPs during the orientation exercise on Monday

She spoke at the opening of a five-day orientation workshop for members of Malawi’s 193-seat Parliament set to be sworn-in on Monday and Tuesday next week. During the May 21 vote, there was no parliamentary election in Lilongwe South following the death of a candidate weeks before polling day.

In her address, Curran said MPs should learn to work together for the best interest of their constituents and the nation at large regardless of their political affiliations.

She said: “When you come to Parliament, you need to learn to work together. In Parliament there are a lot of opportunities for cross-party work and where you look at issues and evidence.

“It is quite important that MPs are voices of their constituents and deal with issues of national importance. Good democracy is equal to good government.”

During the elections, voters elected 134 new faces, representing 68 percent. The 192 legislators elected to date are broken down as follows Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 62, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) 55, independents 55, United Democratic Front (UDF) 10, People’s Party (PP) five; UTM Party four and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) one.

DPP and MCP have since made manouvres to bolster their numbers by luring independent legislators.

In his speech, senior assistant Clerk of Parliament Joseph Manzi said the increased number of new MPs justified a rigorous orientation programme to teach the legislators how to conduct parliamentary business.

Former Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda, who has bounced back into the House after a five-year break, said the Parliament leadership has much work cut out for it in training the new cohort of legislators.

One of the new MPs in the House, Yusuf Witness Nthenda, a lawyer who defeated veteran Mulanje West MP Patricia Kaliati, said there is need for the MPs to bury their differences to achieve better results for their constituencies.

About 64 MPs have returned to Parliament, according to results from the Malawi Electoral Commission, up from 46 in 2014. In 2009, 47 MPs out of 193 returned to Parliament, 49 in 2004, 61 in 1999 general election.

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