The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has been mandated to develop impeachment procedures for deputy speakers which currently do not exist in the Standing Orders of Parliament or the Constitution.
In the parliamentary procedures, Standing Order 208 (1 to 12) outlines the procedure for indictment of the president or vice-president while Standing Order 209 (1 to 6) outlines procedure for impeachment of the president and vice-president as recommended in Section 86 (2) of the Constitution.
While Section 53(3)(c) states that a Speaker can be removed by a resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members Parliament, no such procedure is provided for deputy speakers.
The Constitution even provides for the right of the Speaker to be heard ‘on his or her own motion on any matter relating to his or her removal from office.’
However, the only reference to removal of a deputy speaker is contained in Terms and Conditions of Service for the Deputy Speaker, article 12. 1. 3 which indicates “the deputy Speaker shall cease to hold office upon the House so deciding”.
How the House will decide is not indicated and the committee’s deputy chairperson Maxwell Thyolera said in an interview yesterday the committee is considering drafting impeachment procedures for deputy speaker for that reason.
However, the timing of the process is suspect as there are allegations that First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka-Chilenje and Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya dubiously claimed housing allowances amounting to millions by signing tenancy agreements for their own houses.
In March this year, Mcheka-Chilenje thwarted an attempt by People’s Party (PP) legislator Kamlepo Kalua (Rumphi East) who wanted to table a motion to remove the deputy speakers as investigations were underway.
Legal and constitutional commentator Edge Kanyongolo has demanded that the deputy speakers should pay back what they unjustly got from taxpayers to avoid setting a bad precedent for future occupants of the office.