(The President, through his lawyers Tamusiya Athawe, wants the tribunal to stop the move by the opposition to review standing orders that stop Parliament from summoning the President to answer other questions not related to the opening of the budget from legislators. He is making his submission in court to judge Mbadwa)
Athawe: My Lord, I don’t know what the opposition are smoking these days. Yes, I am referring to the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee’s move to add a standing order to parliamentary rules and procedure on the need for the President to be summoned to the House as the machinations of the opposition. This is an opposition-led scheming whose sole aim is to embarrass the President because they want to be asking Mapuya useless questions.
My Lord, what more questions not related to the budget opening do they want to pose to the President? What sort of questions would they ask that ministers could not respond to as they are delegated? If you read Standing Order 201, My Lord, you will understand that the drafters of the standing orders realised the significance of delegating authority; hence, the President could not be responding to each and every query.
My Lord, I want to submit that the opposition coming under the guise of the Legal Affairs Committee, have various avenues they can use to present questions to the President. For instance, they can channel their questions through reporters of various media houses who attend every press briefing the President organises through his press secretary.
By the way, MBC tv runs a programme called Talk to the President and viewers are encouraged to send their questions to the producer in advance so that Mapuya can respond to them. Why can’t the opposition grab the opportunity with both hands?
The opposition might as well send their questions to newspapers though my client cannot guarantee that he will see the questions considering that my client is on record that he looks at Malawian papers with aversion for allegedly undermining his leadership.
My Lord, dragging the President to the House for one hour and 45 minutes to answer questions on why there seems not to be an end to the maize shortage saga; why medical drugs are becoming scarce by each going day of Mapuya’s administration and what prompted the whole Mapuya to be talking about why did he not suspend a minister under probe would be akin to wasting the President’s precious time.
It should be put on record, My Lord, that the President was elected by over two million people; hence, he is not accountable to the opposition. The people gave the President the mandate and it is the considered view of my client that he should not be put in a dock by parliamentarians as if he were some criminal.
In summation My Lord, we say no, no and no to the idea of summoning the President by the House for other reason than those already included in the current standing orders. Thank you My Lord.
Judge Mbadwa: Counsel, you have argued your case well, but this court cannot stop the process which the Legal Affairs Committee has started before it is concluded and the House has adopted the proposed Standing Orders. If you have the numbers, you can stop the process in the House. I, however, feel that the committee had your client in mind when they came up with such a proposal. For accountability’s sake, I think there is merit in a suggestion that the sitting President be subjected to a grilling by the House on pertinent issues. Tomorrow it could be your client and the next day it might as well be those you are claiming that are scheming to embarrass your client that will be on the hot seat and what an opportunity to get even! At the end of the day, it is democracy that will benefit with the new proposal. By the way, why does your client fear the unknown?