Two weeks ago newly elected members of Parliament elected Richard Msowoya as Speaker of Parliament for the next five years. Msowoya beat sole contender Francis Kasaila by 101 votes to 89. He replaces Henry Chimunthu-Banda whose term ended after the May 20 elections. I spoke to Msowoya on how he intends to lead the august House.
Q. Congratulations on being elected Speaker of the National Assembly
Q. How does it feel to be Speaker, did you expect it?
It feels good. I didn’t expect it, but it feels good. I think, naturally, when you rise to this kind of position in your country, it is always a good thing because on one hand is a personal achievement. It is also exiting, but sometimes you can call it little scaring when you look at responsibilities that is before you. Just to mention but a few, you look at the state of the nation where Malawi is now, the kind of a situation where Malawi can be changed for the better about what you say or what you don’t.
Q. How much did your party help you to achieve this?
I wouldn’t know, but I believe my party was on my side during election. I also believe other parties were on my side. So, I can only thank all of them for electing me.
Q. Other members of Parliament (MPs) in your party such as Joseph Njovuyalema, Jessie Kabwila and Felix Jumbe expressed interest in the position, how did the party handle the situation?
The party handed it well. It looked at us as children of one party. There was an extensive consultation. At least that’s what the leadership of the party told me. I am sure you have not heard of any in-fighting and divisions. This is because the matter was handled very democratically. The party made extensive consultations in coming up with my name and the outcome led to a smooth transition
Q. MCP appears aggrieved after losing the elections. Do you remain aggrieved yourself?
No. It’s time to move on. For how long will I be aggrieved? For how long will I remain with my tears? There is always a time when you make a decision to move on. As a party, we made a decision to move on. The most important thing to think about is a Malawian who needs drugs to be available in hospitals, a good road network, a Malawian who would like to change his livelihood. As being an opposition party, MCP has a role to play to advance the aspiration of a common Malawian and MCP is determined to work with whoever is there for the benefit of Malawians.
Q. What agenda will you push in the House?
For now I should not be talking about MCP because I am now Speaker of the National Assembly and I believe I represent all parties represented in the House and, therefore, my ruling will be for the common feeling among the members in the House and it will benefit the people out there. Those are the two areas of consideration when making a ruling.
Q. Among past Speakers, who is your role model?
I will keep that to myself. Sometimes it is difficult to say so, especially when some are dead and others are still living.
Q. In five years, where do you want to see Parliament?
I would like to see Parliament playing an oversight role. Committees should be properly funded. I would like to take example of Ugandan Parliament where they have a court that deals with issues to do with Parliament. I would like to push that agenda of having proper policies
Q. History shows that most Speakers do not survive politically, how do you want to relate with your party?
Well, my relationship with my party is good. My president understands the situation I am in. In fact, he is the one who had put my name forward to compete on this position. He understood that there was going to be sort of a divorce after being a Speaker. I don’t think there could be a particular problem and I hope they will be none coming. I believe he is the person who understands my position now as I do understand his position as well. But don’t forget I am still the vice-president of the party. So, they will be a time when I will be with my constituents.
Q. How are you going to balance up being vice-president of MCP and handling issues of national interest?
You see what, in other constitutions or regimes when one get to such a position, they are asked to resign to make sure impartiality is maintained, but I don’t see it as an issue. My colleagues in the past managed to belong to their parties and they worked well. I hope to do the same. If I counter a problem, I will bring it to the attention of the House and my party. But I don’t really think I will have that pressure.