National Assembly Speaker Richard Msowoya has reacted against racist jibes Lilongwe City Central member of Parliament (MP) David Bisnowaty (Independent) was subjected to recently, and has ordered the erasing of the remarks from the Hansard, a publication that contains verbatim debate records in the House.
Msowoya disclosed his actione on Saturday night that he had received a letter from Bisnowaty complaining about having been racially harangued predominantly by members of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) during a debate in the House last Thursday afternoon.
Bisnowaty, a Malawian of Jewish descent, drew the wrath of many MCP parliamentarians when he stood on a point of order and countered remarks by Lilongwe North-east MP Maxwell Thyolera who said during the reign of Malawi’s and MCP’s founding president, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the nation always had food.
In his interjection, Bisnowaty said during the one-party era, which ended in 1994, it was difficult to ascertain whether people were experiencing hunger, since that negative fact could not be publicised by affected people for fear of victimisation by authorities.
He added that the leadership then abused national resources by building palaces and State houses instead of chanelling the funds to developing irrigation, which would have ensured food sufficiency in the country.
Apart from the racial slurs and jibes, Bisnowaty was described as a failed politician and told to relocate to Israel.
“I have ordered the Hansard to remove all the racist slurs in the publication,” the Speaker stated, adding he was convinced that the racist jibes Bisnowaty received were unfortunate and “unparliamentary” and were not fit to form part of the House’s official records.
He said he and his two deputy speakers Esther Mcheka-Chilenje and Harold Chiwaya guard against such unpalatable comments, which they can rule out of order either immediately in the Chamber, or after a query is raised afterwards by a concerned individual or members in the House.
Msowoya added: “In this case, the complaint came after the things were said and it was actually the following day [when the Bisnowaty letter was written]. I just used my powers to remove the racist slurs.”
In his November 20 letter written to the Speaker, a copy of which The Nation has seen, Bisnowaty said he was registering the protest “in the strongest terms against the relentless and senseless racism and discrimination” he had been subjected to by the MCP MPs.
Bisnowaty said he was also disappointed that MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, who is also leader of opposition in the House, did not intervene in the matter.
In an interview on Saturday night, Chakwera, said he would make his stand clear in a statement he intends to make in Parliament this afternoon.