Organisers of demonstrations and people wishing to protest will now have to think twice before going to the streets as government will now start using the full arm of the law to curb violent protests.
Among others government will use the Police Act, the Riot Damages Act and the Preservation of Public Security Act to bring sanity to a wave of demonstrations that have culminated into violence and loss of property.
But opposition legislators have vowed to block any attempts by the Executive to crush demonstrators, arguing that in a democratic dispensation, draconian laws are not welcome.
Presenting a statement in Parliament on Friday, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Bright Msaka declared that the government remains resolute in ensuring that the country is governed in strict adherence to its laws.
For instance, the minister cited the Police Act under Section 105(4) (d), which gives law enforcers powers to order the use of force, including use of firearms and other weapons.
Msaka, whose statement was titled ‘Demonstrations within a constitutional and legal framework’ also informed the House that penalties for offences for the preservation of Public Security Act are a fine or imprisonment for five years.
Said Msaka: “ I wish to inform the House and the Malawi nation that all security agencies in Malawi and all officials have been duly instructed to ensure that all our laws, as cited above, including the Penal Code and others, are strictly enforced and strictly obeyed.”
But opposition legislators, including Yeremiah Chihana and Ulemu Chilapondwa, took turns quizzing the minister for allowing the use of archaic laws in a multiparty democracy.
Chihana cautioned the minster from making statements that undermine the foundation of democracy and also threaten the rights of members of Parliament in the House.
Meanwhile, the House has appointed members into Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) in accordance with Section 7(1) b of Parliamentary Service Act and they include George Chaponda, Richard Chimwendo Banda, Lillian Patel, John Chikalimba and Chrispin Mphande.
The House has also appointed membership of the Pan-African Parliament. The members are Chimwemwe Chipungu, Ezekiel Ching’oma, Rodrick Khumbanyiwa, Yeremiah Chihana and Chrissie Kanyaso.
However, some independent MPs expressed concern for being left out in such crucial committees despite the House having at least 55 independents.
In his winding up speech, before the House rose sine die, leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa took a swipe at opposition MPs for humiliating President Peter Mutharika during the opening of Parliament, by walking out in protest.
Nankhumwa said the act was shameful.