The political controversy on the disputed May 21 general election results erupted in Parliament in Lilongwe on Friday when Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators stormed out after booing President Peter Mutharika.
The booing, heckling, bench-banging and shouts were directed at the President for allegedly securing his re-election victory through rigging and fraud.
The drama started as Mutharika was entering the House to perform the State opening of the 1st Meeting of in the 48th Session of Parliament and the 2019/2020 Budget Meeting.
Key poll contestants MCP and UTM have moved the High Court to nullify the presidential results and order a re-run.
However, the President and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) say they won the election fairly and squarely.
By 10am, when the President arrived at Parliament and proceeded to inspect a guard of honour, he was in familiar territory when DPP party supporters and sympathisers saluted and cheered him on.
Inside Parliament, Members of Parliament (MPs) across the political divide were seen mocking each other, with the government side members bragging of being in power, while the MCP bloc was bent on accusing the ruling side of ‘rigging the election’.
The drama began turning ugly immediately after the First Lady Gertrude Mutharika walked into the chamber. The government MPs cheered her, but the opposition side appeared unmoved, with the MCP MPs loudly chanting derogatory statements.
Mutharika’s arrival worsened the situation; the MCP legislators remained seated while those representing the DPP, UTM and People’s Party (PP) and some independents, showed the usual respect the President enjoys in the august House. MCP MPs were simply uncontrollable. With Mutharika in the House, they continued to chant anti-Mutharika slogans. The protesting MPs called Mutharika ‘wakuba, mbava’ in full view of the diplomatic community, judges and chief executives from both private and public institutions.
The newly-elected first-ever female Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara, on an MCP ticket, had a tough assignment on the first day of her new job in taming MPs, mainly from her own campwho has gone to Parliament
As the booing continued, Mutharika’s microphone remained on for over 20 minutes, as he was ready to deliver his State of the Nation Address (Sona). But he couldn’t begin his speech, as the chants were much louder than the Speaker’s voice which pleaded for order.
“Order honourable members. I will be forced to send some of you out of the House,” said the Speaker. She was later forced to invoke Standing Order 105, which empowers the Speaker to send out any misbehaving MP.
She targeted Dedza South MP Ishmail Ndaila Onani (MCP) for the sending out. But the other MCP parliamentarians decided to walk out in solidarity, while Mutharika was commencing his address.
MCP officials and supporters have lately been holding protests following the announcement of presidential results three weeks ago.
MCP and UTM, last Friday, joined nationwide protests organised by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which is seeking the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah, allegedly for mishandling the election, partly by allowing a tampering of some ballot tally sheets and related documents with the liquid eraser called tippex.
While Mutharika addressed the nation on the crucial policy statement, it was ironic that some members of the ruling side appeared sleeping. Those we spotted apparently napping include senior DPP members Vice-President Everton Chimulirenji and former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda.