Parliament on Monday elected Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vice-president Richard Msowoya as the seventh Speaker of the Malawi Parliament in the multi-party era.
Msowoya, who is Karonga Nyungwe Member of Parliament (MP) and replaces Henry Chimunthu Banda, was elected with 101 votes in a secret ballot against 89 votes for Nsanje Central MP Francis Kasaila of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). There was one null and void vote during the election presided over by acting Clerk of Parliament Roosevelt Gondwwe.
There were 191 MPs present when the House elected Msowoya, touted as a strong and mature man who would conduct business in Parliament in an impartial manner.
When Msowoya went to cast his vote, there were calls of ‘akukwana’ and ‘Speaker’ and similar, but muted calls accompanied Kasaila as he walked to the front to cast his ballot.
Dressed in a dark gray suit, Msowoya was physically dragged from his seat and deposited into the Speaker’s chair as tradition dictates after Gondwe declared him winner.
In his first remarks as Speaker, Msowoya assured Malawians that under his leadership, the Constitution would be followed.
“I thank all members for electing me. I would like to assure all Malawians that coming from MCP which observes the rule of law and the laws of Malawi, the Constitution are followed,” Msowoya said.
Chiradzulu East MP Henry Mussa (DPP), who nominated Kasaila, asked Msowoya to be impartial and strike a balance between government and opposition while dealing with issues of national importance.
In proposing the name of Msowoya, 52, for the candidacy, Lilongwe Msozi South MP Vitus Dzoole Mwale (MCP) stirred controversy and was booed by the government side, but applauded by the opposition side of the House when he suggested that the MCP vice-president should be elected Speaker to balance power between the regions of Malawi.
The head of the Executive, President Peter Mutharika, is from the Southern Region while head of the Judiciary, Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa is also from the Southern Region.
Said Dzoole Mwale: “He is a strong, mature Speaker who will conduct business of the House in an impartial manner. We believe Richard Msowoya is the perfect choice.”
Msowoya served as a deputy minister of Education prior to 2009, but lost his Karonga Nyungwe seat before he regained it in this year’s election.
Msowoya holds a master’s degree in supply chain management and was runningmate to MCP presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera which further elevated his status on the political arena.
Kasaila, who was touted as an accomplished and self-made man, withdrew from the race for first deputy speaker, as did Elias Wakuda Kamanga (People’s Party [PP]) MP for Kasungu North East.
Nsanje North MP Esther Mcheka-Chilenje (independent) was elected unopposed as first deputy speaker, a seat she held between 2004 and 2009.
Kamanga got 38 votes against 147 for DPP-proposed candidate for second deputy speaker, Mangochi Central MP Clement Chiwaya (United Democratic Front [UDF]). There was again one null and void vote.