The National Assembly is set to have a permanent Clerk of Parliament (CoP) in three years when President Peter Mutharika approves the selection by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).
Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, who chairs the PSC, said in an interview on Wednesday that interviews for the position of CoP took place on Monday, but he could not disclose how many candidates were shortlisted.
Following the removal of Matilda Katopola in 2012, Roosevelt Gondwe was CoP in acting capacity for the past two years before his retirement earlier this year.
Msowoya said the position attracted several candidates—most of them well-known Malawians who want to associate themselves with the National Assembly.
He said: “Interviews have been conducted and we are now processing results of those interviews. As the law prescribes that the President will appoint [Clerk of Parliament] and when that appointment is made, I am sure the press would be told who the new CoP is.”
According to Section 55 of the Constitution and Section 16 of the Parliamentary Service Act, the CoP is responsible for managing operations of Parliament, providing procedural advice on parliamentary laws to committees, among others.
While a CoP is appointed by the President following recommendations from the PSC, the clerk works under the direction of the Speaker.
PSC is looking for a CoP who would be willing to work with all members of Parliament (MPs), motivate parliamentary service staff and develop and maintain good public relations, a stipulation which has come following the acrimonious relationship that Katopola had with MPs and staff who accused her of meddling and stifling their activities, especially those of committees.
Katopola lost favour with MPs after she was alleged to have dubiously awarded a Parliament contract to her own company while enforcing strict financial discipline in the institution.
She was sent on forced leave in May 2012 before then president Joyce Banda recalled her a month later, but she refused and sued government for constructive dismissal to claim at least K500 million in damages. n