Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has warned that unless the beleaguered Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah is fired or resigns protests across the country will continue to paralyse normal business.
Interim leader of opposition Robin Lowe told parliament on Friday that there are three options left for the MEC chairperson which are to honourably resign, let the ruling party facilitate her resignation or relevant authorities should fire her.
Lowe’s sentiments got applause from opposition benches but government MPs seemed not amused by the suggestions.
While agreeing that the issue was substantial, First Deputy Speaker Madalitso Kazombo pointed out that the House could not proceed to debate the matter as standing orders do not allow to discuss people who cannot defend themselves in Parliament.
When we asked leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa for comment, he indicated the matter was beyond Parliament jurisdiction to comment on.
The legislators were forced to use the VIP gate when entering Parliament premises as the main gate was cordoned by army vehicles and the soldiers who have been manning it since Thursday.
Demonstrators also camped just outside Parliament building since Thursday afternoon and were still holding their vigil as of on Friday morning.
The deputy speaker also shot down suggestions by opposition MPs that the House should adjourn prematurely over security concerns.
Said Kazombo: “We can’t keep on adjourning because there is tension outside, there is more tension coming and we should be able to handle it, that’s why we are honourable members.”
Tempers flared in the House as both sides could not agree on how to proceed. Opposition MPs insisted on an early adjournment to allow leaders of political parties to meet and chart the way forward while the government side pushed for business to continue.
For almost an hour Kazombo kept entertaining point of orders which saw members having petty exchanges that led nowhere.
Kasungu South East MP Khumbize Chiponda touched on a raw nerve when she accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of failing to account for the suspicious murders of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) official Issa Njauju and The Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa.
But government chief whip Vuwa Kaunda hit back saying MCP has no right to preach about democracy because of its tainted past.
In an interview, MCP chief whip Sam Kawale explained that it was paramount for the House to discuss members’ security concerns as they border on national security.
He said demonstrators holding vigil outside Parliament was reason enough to prioritise the issue.
“The demonstrators have camped outside our doorsteps, shouldn’t we be concerned about safety of MPs? As MPs we are also concerned about the vandalism and unfortunate events happening across the country, all we wanted was for this issue to be discussed, have government respond and make sure there is peace and order outside Parliament Building,” said Kawale.
Meanwhile the House has adjourned for weekend recess and will resume sitting on Tuesday next week after independence celebrations on Monday.