Mwanza Central member of Parliament (MP) Davies Katsonga (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) yesterday walked out of Parliament in protest following disagreements with Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya on dress code.
Katsonga, himself a former Speaker of Parliament, entered the Parliament chamber clad in a traditional Ngoni head gear made from animal skin, prompting some legislators to state it was contrary to the dress code as provided under Parliamentary Standing Order 104(c).
Standing on a point of order, Dedza South West MP Clement Mlombwa (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), asked the Second Deputy Speaker if wearing Ngoni headgear in Parliament was in order.
Queried Mlombwa: “Is it in order for the honourable member to come in Parliament wearing that Ngoni head regalia? Some of us are Chewa, what will happen if we also come wearing our traditional regalia?”
After consultations, Chiwaya ruled Katsonga out of order, saying men were not allowed to wear headgears in the chamber.
Said the Second Deputy Speaker: “Parliamentary Standing orders clearly stipulate what type of dressing members have to follow. The freedom on headgear is only given to women; and not men unless it [the dress code] is reviewed by the Legal Affairs Committee. My ruling on this is that men are not allowed to have the headgear.”
However, this did not go down well with Katsonga who challenged the ruling, saying the Speaker was not fair in deciding the matter before consultations with the Legal Affairs Committee.
He said he was entitled to wear such regalia as it portrays his prominence in his Ngoni tribe where he is counsel to Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani V.
Said Katsonga: “All I am seeking is clarity from the chair from the said relevant committee before ruling on the matter, but if that is the case, Mr. Speaker, I challenge you. I will gladly accept Standing Order 105 and accept to leave the chamber.”