Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara says Parliament is failing to meet public expectations because the parliamentary oversight role is partly being hampered by inadequate resources.
Speaking in an interview in Lilongwe yesterday after opening the second cohort of Parliamentary Training Programme (PTP) for members of Parliament (MPs), the Speaker said Parliament is overwhelmed with public inquiries on several national issues, including land issues and public resources abuse, but the august House is short of resources.
She said: “The public is always happy when we, as Parliament, conduct public inquiries because it gives them a picture of key public issues of national importance happening in the country.
“Unfortunately, we do not have resources allocated for public hearings or inquiries which compromises the oversight role that Parliament has on national mattters.”
Gotani Hara said the training was supposed to take place soon after MPs were elected into office in 2019, but it delayed due to competing needs of Parliament, including the Covid-19 pandemic which is restricting gatherings.
“The training will build capacity of members of Parliament to follow ethics and code of conduct in their role both at Parliament and at constituency level,” said the Speaker.
She acknowledged that unlike in the past when citizens were not engaged in governance issues, MPs are now being critically judged not only by the urban population, but rural communities too.
Meanwhile, Malawi Institute of Management acting executive director Samson Sikelo has said the training will include a module on information and communications technology (ICT) based on recent virtual parliamentary meetings due to Covid-19.
He said some MPs were facing challenges in participating virtually due to poor ICT knowledge.
Said Sikelo: “Over the years, through our engagement with parliamentarians in capacity building sessions, we have seen improvements in how they debate issues in Parliament and we are looking for more improvements after this training session.”
On his part, Neno North legislator Thoko Tembo admitted that capacity gaps exist in some MPs; hence, the training will help to address the gaps