Malawi Parliament on Wednesday afternoon only scrutinised and passed two votes during a sitting marred by insults and name-calling, forcing Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga to defer three of the five votes tackled.
The House was thrown into uncontrolled chaos towards the end of the day’s business, which was extended by almost 30 minutes, after Minister of Water Development and Irrigation Ritchie Muheya called Thyolo Thava MP Lifred Nawena “stupid and insane”. This drew protests from the entire opposition benches.
This happened as the House was deliberating the vote for Muheya’s ministry and after Nawena got personal, saying the House should only increase funding if the current minister is removed from his office.
Nawena said since Muheya was appointed to the ministry, his constituency has only had one borehole. He claimed that was the situation in other constituencies represented by opposition MPs. His sentiments were supported by Ntcheu Bwanje North MP Steven Kamwendo who also said he only has three boreholes.
Nawena’s statement did not go down well with Muheya who responded: “The statement just shows how insane you are. You are stupid.”
Muheya’s attempts to withdraw the statement after being asked to do so by the opposition did not help subdue the uproar that followed.
Second Deputy Speaker Juliana Mphande failed to control the House, prompting Lipenga to call for the suspension of the Committee of Supply.
The other vote that also stirred a heated debate and bitter exchange of words was one for the Disability and Elderly Affairs which also at one time saw Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa exchanging fire with Nkhotakota Central MP Edwin Banda.
Mussa was infuriated after Banda called him as “incompetent”. The opposition MPs were fighting to have almost K18 million (about $50 000) taken out of this vote to be reinstated.
Both the Water Development and Irrigation and the Disability and the Elderly Affairs votes had to be deferred alongside the one for Agriculture and Food Security which also attracted hot debate and disagreements between the opposition and the government benches.
On the Agriculture vote, it had to take leader of the Opposition John Tembo to plead with government to defer the Bill to a later day to give it time arguing “if we mess up with this one, we mess up everything. We cannot be discussing issues of labour when people have not eaten.”
It was only the votes for Lands and Housing, and Youth and Sports which were given a nod.
There are about 41 votes remaining to be tackled in the Committee of Supply for the Mid-Term Budget Review.