Emotion, drama and wry humour were evident when Parliament wrapped up nine weeks of a memorable Budget Session in Lilongwe on July 3.
As he tabled the motion that the House adjourns sine die, Speaker Richard Msowoya’s voice seemed to crack with emotion in the act that was about to send home parliamentarians who had engaged in what passes for one of the most vibrant deliberations in Malawi’s history.
When the Speaker dropped the tell-tale motion question that Members of Parliament (MPs) who were of the opinion that the House goes on the current long recess say “aye” and those of the contrary opinion say “no,” the result seemed interesting for all.
Addressing the House earlier, the Speaker said he and First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka-Chilenje and Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya enjoyed steering the Budget Session that unfolded without Executive interference and was also well guided by the various other leaders among the MPs.
Then Msowoya went into confession time: “We are human, as well. There are times we can make a mistake. We beg for forgiveness. But all in all, we are a happy trio and we hope that you will enjoy your recess.”
For a parting shot, the Speaker gave the MPs some food for thought when he quoted a saying by Indian sub-continent’s respected spiritual leader Gautama Buddha: “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, who was the busiest and the most relieved man after his K930 billion ($2.1 billion) 2015/16 National Budget was approved just over a week ago, said government’s focus will now be on implementing the budget to the letter.
Giving his reflections, in an interview, Leader of the House and Minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila said the session had been impressive.
In his assessment, leader of the opposition and Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera said the session was beneficial, partly because there was active engagement among the MPs.
He also noted improvements in the quality of cluster committees in scrutinising the budget.
“I believe that Malawians are the best judges as to how we have performed. But I also believe that the vigour and the vitality –even the important issues that were raised, research-based, by the Opposition– made this year’s budget debate a very fruitful one,” Chakwera reflected.