Parliament has said the Speaker of the National Assembly is not in charge of bills that the Executive brings to the House and cannot overrule how they want to prioritise them.
The clarification follows an online article which appeared on Monday in which Speaker Richard Msowoya allegedly spoke against calls by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to pass the Electoral Reforms Bills.
This was a departure from his earlier public stance made during an engagement with PAC earlier this month in which he said Malawians in general and members of Parliament (MPs) were in favour of the proposed changes and that Parliament would do the same.
During a meeting with the delegation of European Election Observers who were in the country to follow up on the 2014 election recommendations in September, Msowoya emphasized the readiness of Parliament to table election-related bills when government tables them before the House this month.
But a press statement released on Tuesday in response to the online article states that Parliament has no control over government bills and only takes over bills after the government has approved their presentation to the House.
Assistant Clerk of Parliament for Protocol and Public Relations Leonard Mengezi said even when a bill is gazetted, Parliament waits for 28 days notice requirement according to Standing Order 125 (2).
“It is important to note that if a bill is not gazetted, Parliament cannot do anything about it regardless of how urgent and important a matter is,” he said.
He said the Speaker could not overrule how the government side in the House prioritises bills in line with Standing Orders 47 (3) and (4).
Mengezi further outlined that a bill cannot be debated by the House because of time constraints as there are provisions for a waiver of time.
“It is also very clear, from the procedure above that neither the Speaker nor his office can introduce a bill in the House,” he said.