Government on Monday told Parliament it is not aware of any plans to impeach incumbent Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya, alleging that it is some opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members of Parliament (MPs) who are agitating for his removal.
The debate on the impeachment of the Speaker started in the House on Monday following reports in our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, which quoted Leader of the House Francis Kasaila as having said Msowoya’s impeachment could not be ruled out “if he steps on people’s toes”.
Monday’s debate threatened to derail proceedings in the House after Rumphi East MP Kamlepo Kalua (People’s Party-PP) said he had information that the Attorney General’s office was drafting a bill to impeach the Speaker.
“We lost a Speaker from the North because of such behaviour now you want to put pressure on this Speaker. We don’t want to [lose] another Speaker like that,” Kalua said in an apparent reference to former speaker the late Rodwell Mnyenyembe who collapsed in the House at the height of the budget versus Section 65 debate in 2005.
But Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu denied any knowledge of an impeachment plot facilitated by his office citing Section 53 of the Constitution which states that such a motion can only originate from the House.
Said the minister: “I am not aware of this bill. When it comes to impeachment, it comes from this House, according to Section 53 of the Constitution. I want to distance my ministry and Attorney General from this type of allegation.”
Chipping in, government chief whip Henry Mussa asked Kalua to provide evidence of such a bill, referring to the MP as a newcomer who “has no idea about what happens in this House”.
But Kalua’s remarks received support from Lilongwe Msozi South MP Vitus Dzoole-Mwale (MCP) and later more MPs from MCP who demanded assurances that the impeachment would not happen.
But Msowoya attempted to curtail the debate by reminding the MPs that the House does not debate rumours and if at all such a bill existed, it would be put to the members and they would debate it accordingly.
Said the Speaker: “Let us be serious. What we are doing here is misusing taxpayers’ money and I am not going to allow it. Whether there is impeachment or not, that is just dead talk.”
But Msowoya’s warning was not heeded when government deputy chief whip and Minister of Youth Development and Sports Grace Chiumia opened up the debate again, claiming that she had names of opposition MPs who were agitating for the Speaker’s removal for interfering with the MCP leadership.
And standing on a point of order, Salima North West MP Jessie Kabwila (MCP) said: “We cannot be talking about graders when there is an issue here that wants to divide us in the MCP. We want those names and we want them now. We will not continue this meeting until we get answers.”
However, Chiumia said she would provide the names if Kalua produced the bill outlining the impeachment of the Speaker.
According to new Standing Order 32 to 34, a Speaker can be removed by a resolution of the House following 14 days of debate on a motion signed by a third of the members followed by a secret ballot for two thirds majority vote but the government can only achieve that with 128 MPs on its side.
Weekend Nation reported that Msowoya faced impeachment over his alleged bias in the handling of the petition by rights activist Billy Mayaya to declare vacant seats of 11 United Democratic Front (UDF) MPs who moved to the government benches in Parliament to cement their party’s working relationship with governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).