Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya and leaders of political parties in the House have condemned violent actions and a fracas on the sidelines of the opening of the Third Meeting of the 47th Session of Parliament.
Msowoya yesterday expressed his concern that outsiders, most conspicuously Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets, had the audacity to disturb proceedings of the House as President Peter Mutharika delivered the 2018 State of the Nation Address (Sona).
He said: “As Speaker, I am deeply concerned with the conduct of some members of the public last Friday during Sona. What happened on Friday must be condemned in strongest terms and let me ask leaders of political parties to say something concerning the act.”
Msowoya said his office is in the process of retrieving footage from the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras of the House to facilitate investigations and ensure that culprits are brought to book.
On Saturday, Vice-President Saulos Chilima was the first to directly condemn the violence perpetrated by the youths who earlier attempted to block Mulanje West legislator Patricia Kaliati (DPP) from getting into Parliament. He also condemned the torching of a vehicle belonging to Mulanje South member of Paliament (MP) Bon Kalindo (DPP) by unidentified arsonists.
The Vice-President described the acts as barbaric. He appealed to youths to push for sustainable empowerment than being used as political pawns to perpetrate violence.
Yesterday, Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa—who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development—alongside leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera and leader of People’s Party (PP) in the House Ralph Mhone said the act was regrettable and called for a probe.
In his remarks on the issue, Mhone said what happened was shameful and called on his fellow politicians to observe their limits in mixing politics and government business.
He said: “We feel that what happened was not only shaming and an assault to the rule of law, but parties need to learn to distinguish politics and other important national business.
“What happened was an assault on democracy. It must be condemned and I hope that every branch of government which is supposed to look into this matter do that diligently and act.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Former Members of Parliament has called on for an investigation and condemnation of the perpetrators of violence and fracas.
In a press release signed by the group’s secretary general, Ronald Chanthunya, the former MPs are demanding DPP to look into the matter and make sure that justice is done and the perpetrators are brought to book.
“We would wish to request the ruling DPP government not only to condemn but to investigate into the matter and bring culprits to book,” reads the statement in part.
The President’s Sona was interrupted twice as the Speaker desperately attempted to bring order in the House following a scuffle between police and governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets in the House.
Heckling between opposition and government side legislators sparked the ugly scenes as DPP members of Parliament (MPs) and those in the opposition traded barbs after Mutharika’s claim that there was evidence that his administration had made gains in fighting corruption since assuming power in May 2014. n