Former second deputy speaker of Parliament Clement Chiwaya shot himself dead on Thursday in the office of Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba, raising questions on how he was allowed to take a gun into the supposed highly-guarded premises.
Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye confirmed the incident on Thursday and that the matter was reported to police.
But National Police spkesperson James Kadadzera said he needed more time to get finer details.
In a statement released last evening, Parliament said Chiwaya being a person with disability using a wheelchair, security officers deemed the scanner alerts as coming from the wheelchair which had metal fittings.
Chiwaya, who last served in the 2014 to 2019 cohort of Parliament as Mangochi Central legislator, had been pushing to have his official vehicle ownership changed into his name having paid for the same.
However, Parliament took time to facilitate the arrangement even after the Office of the Ombudsman ruled in his favour.
But in its statement, Parliament justified the delay, saying there was an pending case in court regarding Chiwaya’s vehicle which was involved in an accident while transfer of ownership had not been completed and insurance had expired.
In a purported suicide note which went viral on Thursday, Chiwaya also hinted that he had been turned into a beggar for something he said he was entitled to.
Security at Parliament Building in Lilongwe is provided by both the Malawi Police Service and private security firms. All visitors and staff are subjected to two security checks when entering the premises.
At the main entrance, uniformed and armed police officers use electronic detectors while at the entrance to the building, another set of police officers do the checking to check unauthorised gadgets, including firearms.
Insiders confided that due to his disability, Chiwaya was usually not subjected to any security checks. He often used a disability-friendly stairway with his wheelchair.
But Mzuzu University security studies lecturer Eugenio Njoloma has since described the incident as a wakeup call on the need to never take security issues casually.
He said while Chiwaya may have been exempted from checks out of respect and consideration, this should not have been the case as the cost of such decisions is huge.
Njoloma said: “Security matters must be treated with utmost seriousness. If you go at the airport, even children are subjected to checks because you do not want to take anything for granted?
“What if the deceased shot the CoP [Clerk of Parliament] or anyone at Parliament? This should serve as a lesson to always do what is right?”
Mental health specialist Precious Makiyi said while the purported suicide note may indicate a reason for the act, many times such decisions result from accumulated frustration. He said in such cases, one small incident may trigger the suicide.
“I would say, from what he wrote, here is someone who likely was already depressed due to several factors, including his physical health. This case has just made the cup fill,” he said.
In an interview last evening, United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi described Chiwaya as an intelligent, loyal friend, adviser, family man and someone devoted to his faith.
He said: “The death of Honourable Dr. Clement Chiwaya has shocked all of us.”
Formerly a banker, Chiwaya joined active politics in 2003 and won the Mangochi Central Constituency on UDF ticket in the 2004 General Elections. He served three five-year terms of office until 2019 when he announced his retirement from active politics.
Besides being legislator, he served in various capacities in the Cabinets of former presidents Bingu wa Mutharika and Peter Mutharika.
In Parliament, Chiwaya was among few critical voices active during both plenary and committee meetings.
He resigned from Bingu’s Cabinet on a matter of principle after the former president had ditched UDF—the party that sponsored his presidential ticket—to form Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).