Members of Parliament (MPs) from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) on Monday afternoon walked out of the House in protest against the missing of the Electoral Reforms Bill on the day’s Order Paper as promised by government.
Standing on a point of order after Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya completed his communication for the day, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera accused government of lacking seriousness by neglecting the promises it made on the inclusion of the Electoral Reforms Bills on the Order Paper—an outline of the day’s business in the National Assembly.
In that regard, he said it was not right for him to continue with the day’s business without the Bills appearing on the Order Paper.
“Until the Electoral Reforms Bills appear on the Order Paper, we [MCP] will not come back to the House. This is not right and time is running out,” said Chakwera, who is also MCP president.
Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa told the House that the Business Committee, which comprises leaders of the parties represented in Parliament and is chaired by the Speaker, is expected to meet today to discuss the issue.
He asked the Speaker to let business proceed as outlined on the Order Paper.
But this did not go down well with MCP which accused government of lacking seriousness. In protest, Chakwera was seen walking out, followed by his party’s legislators.
In an interview later, Chakwera said enough was enough and that they will not change their minds unless the Order Paper is changed and the Bills in question are put on it.
Msowoya, on the other hand, told the government leadership to take the issue of the electoral reforms seriously because even his office has received several calls concerning the same.
He said: “I have met with several stakeholders and I promised them that the Bills are coming this meeting, and now the pressure mounting on my office is too much so there is need for government to act with urgency and seriousness.”
In an interview during health break, Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, assured that once the Business Committee meets, they will be clear on when the bills will be put on the Order Paper.
He said MCP was exercising its right to walk out of the House and it could not be stopped.
With only two weeks before the House rises, government has not been clear on tabling of the Bills, a development that has been condemned by many stakeholders.