Parliament will this Thursday forego Private Members’ Business to discuss the contentious Electoral Reforms Bill, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya has said.
In his announcement before adjournment of the House for yesterday’s sitting of the first meeting of the 47th Session of Parliament, the Speaker said the whole of Thursday and Friday will be dedicated to the reforms Bills.
He said: “The House will start discussing the Bills on Thursday. There will be no Private Members’ Business and the whole day will be dedicated to this. On Wednesday [tomorrow], the Referendum and Transition Arrangement Bills are expected to be discussed and passed as well.”
But the Speaker did not come out clearly on whether the House, scheduled to be adjourned this Friday, would be extended for a week or so as requested by opposition representatives in the Business Committee last week to allow ample time for legislators to scrutinise the Bills.
He indicated that the Business Committee—which comprises leaders of political parties represented in Parliament and sets out the agenda for the House—will meet after Thursday’s deliberations.
Said Msowoya: “On Friday, the House will sit the whole day to make sure that all the Bills are passed. On Thursday night the Business Committee will meet to assess progress and allow government for an extension of the meeting time.”
Both sides of the House positively reacted to the Speaker’s announcement to forego Private Members’ Business and dedicate Thursday to the Bills.
In his remarks, Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said: “What you have announced is a true reflection of what really transpired at the Business Committee.”
Leader of Opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, said it was important that time is sacrificed in the House for what people have been waiting for.
He said: “I want to agree that [the Speaker’s announcement] is what we agreed in the [Business] committee.”
This means that the House will suspend the relevant standing orders for business to go unusual on Friday where the normal day is supposed to be from 9:30am to 12:30pm.