By Gouthery Gondola
In protesting the unprofessional way of handling business by the Second Deputy Speaker Hon. Clement Chiwaya, all the People’s Party (PP) some of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) Members of Parliament (MPs) are boycotting the discussions of parliament this Friday, September 19, 2014. The boycott is in support for Mzimba Hora MP, Rev. Mzomera Ngwira who was sent packing on Thursday by the Second Deputy Speaker
The saga started on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 when Rev. Mzomera Ngwira raised an issue on a point of order to ministry of education seeking clarification on secondary school selection criteria. Ngwira raised the issue after noting that no single student from Nkhatabay district has been selected to Nkhatabay secondary school. The issue caused uproar as the government side could not explain as to the reasons why this is the case.
On Thursday, September 18, 2014, the Second Deputy Speaker allowed the Minister of Education Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano to explain on the issue even though it was not appearing on order paper. In his explanation, Dr Fabiano indicated that Nkhatabay Secondary School was a grant aided school run by the Catholic Church
“Mr Second Deputy Speaker, in selecting the student, government select 60% of the students while the 40% is selected by Mzuzu Diocese of Catholic. It could be that the 60% of the government allocation could be no one from the same district, while the 40% might have some from the district.” Said Fabiano
The explanation by the minister did not go down well with the members of the opposition including the member who raised the issue Rev. Mzomera Ngwira who wanted to give more details on the matter about the selected student to the school, whom he insisted that none from the district has been selected
As Ngwira was trying to speak in the house, the Second Deputy Speaker could not give any member an opportunity as he said it was not part of order paper. This was in sharp contrast to his earlier decision of allowing the Minister to speak on the matter which was not on order paper and not in tandem with the standing orders.
In the interest of harmony, the members expected the Second Deputy Speaker to give the same opportunity to other members but to the surprise of opposition members, Chiwaya was harsh to any member who wanted to speak on the matter. It was at this juncture when the Chiwaya invoked Section 105 subsection3 to send Ngwira packing.
Immediately after that, the Leader of Opposition in the house, who is also MCP president, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera spoke against sending Ngwira out of parliament basing on the fact that he had the right to speak as he represent the people of his constituency and also a member who presented the issue in the house and also that in the interest of harmony the minister was given the opportunity to explain in the first place
In protest of the decision of the second deputy speaker, PP MPs immediately walked out of the house and also boycotted discussion on the commencement business today.
When the Speaker of Parliament Right Hon. Richard Msowoya took the position this morning to preside over the discussions, PP Chief Whip Hon. Ralph Jooma stood on point of order to appeal on the matter and informed the house that members of his party are not in the house in protest of what happened yesterday.
Msowoya showed remorse but indicated he need more time to consult on the matter including his office, the relevant authority as well as the presiding officer at the time. At this point the PP MPs thought it wise that they will boycott the rest of the day in solidarity with Ngwira until Monday when the speaker will make his ruling
Speaking in Press briefing immediately after walking out, Jooma, said standing order 105 subsection 1, 2 and 3 clearly stipulates the procedures and order through which the Second Deputy speaker Was supposed to follow in invoking the section especially sub section 3.
“It is clear that 1, the second deputy speaker flouted the house procedures and standing orders by allowing the minister of education to speak at the same time refusing Rev Ngwira the right to speak on behalf of the people he represent. 2. The second deputy speaker flouted standing orders and the house procedures by evoking standing the order 105 (3) without going through the same standing order 105 (1, 2) which states that the presiding officer can warn a member that he will be sent out if he insist to speak or behaves in a disorderly manner while subsection 2, states that the Presiding officer is supposed to name and shame a member who is deemed behaving or to have behaved in a disorderly manner.” Said Jooma
Meanwhile a bunch of MCP and AFord MPs have joined the bandwagon of the PP in protest for the same. MCP spokesperson Hon. Jessie Kabwira said that they were not happy with the conduct of the Second Deputy Speaker.
“As MCP we are not happy on how the second deputy speaker handled the matter as well other matters in the house. The second deputy speaker ruled out emotional if not political. He could have exhausted all avenues before sending the member packing.” Said Kabwira
Presently, the house continue the debate without the members who have boycotted and the house will rise for a weekend break at 12:30