Three members of Parliament (MPs) face an investigation over their alleged role in the missing of a fellow legislator’s property in the Parliament chamber last week.
The three have been identified as Mzimba Hora MP Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, Nkhotakota North East MP Martha Lunji and Blantyre North MP Francis Phiso.
Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, who instituted a task team last week to investigate Lilongwe Msozi South Vitus Dzoole Mwale’s complaint that newspapers and some documents had gone missing from his desk, has since referred the matter to the Privileges Committee of the House, which Ngwira is chairperson, for further action. There are calls that he should recuse himself.
Following a review of closed circuit television (CCTV) footage, Zomba Malosa MP Roy Kachale-Banda, a representative of the People’s Party (PP) on the task team, reported to the House yesterday that the footage indicated that Ngwira and Phiso entered the chamber at 13:24 hours and that it was the Blantyre North legislator who was seen in the footage going to Dzoole Mwale’s seat where he searched in his drawer.
He said: “Blantyre North lifted the newspapers, perused them then showed them to Mzimba Hora. He then picked up a document and went through it, then replaced them. At 13:36 hours, Mzimba Hora proceeded to the seat of Lilongwe Msozi South, dipped his hands in the drawer and fished out the newspapers and proceeded to his seat.”
As Kachale-Banda narrated the findings, some MPs could be heard saying: “Shame!!” and “it’s a police case!!”.
He said from the footage, It was the general consensus of the team that Nkhotakota North East appeared to be part of the scheme.
When asked to pronounce herself, Lunji said she was not at the scene to steal, but talk to another member.
She said: “If it is a sin to read a newspaper then surrender it, then I apologise.”
On his part, Phiso appealed to the friendship he said he has with Dzoole-Mwale, saying he was only keen to take a look at the newspaper the Lilongwe Msozi-South MP usually refers to, which turned out to be a copy from 2015.
He said: “I did not take the newspaper. I replaced it. If my action has offended some quarters, I offer my apologies.”
But Dzoole-Mwale was unmoved, asking for further action to be taken and asked that members should not take the issue lightly.
He said: “Personally, I am psychologically affected. My properties were stolen. I don’t know where they are and what they are being used for. Maybe they have been taken to witchdoctors.”
Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa said the allegations were regrettable while leader of Opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera asked for action to be taken on the errant MPs.
However, leader of PP in the House Ralph Mhone asked Ngwira to recuse himself from the Privileges Committee which will deliberate on the matter.
When he appeared in the House in the afternoon, Ngwira apologised for his actions, but said he had since misplaced the newspapers.
Said Ngwira: “The only problem is I did not take them while he was there. For that, I apologise for my actions.”
Efforts by the government leadership for the issue to be thrown out did not receive any favour from the Speaker.
Said the Speaker: “This is not about the item, but interfering in someone’s private property. The matter being referred to the Privileges Committee does not mean the members will be jailed for years, it is to make recommendations for future reference.”
In an interview later, government chief whip Henry Mussa said the incident was unique, but the government would respect the Speaker’s ruling and act after recommendations from the Privileges Committee. n