There was jubilation and smiles in Parliament yesterday for Tonse Alliance member Malawi Congress Party (MCP), as its legislators moved from the opposition bench to the government side.
The move followed the change of government from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to the newly-elected Tonse Alliance comprising MCP, UTM Party and seven other parties.
Making announcements after the House reconvened following a two-week break for national budget cluster meetings and June 23 fresh presidential election, Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara said the changes were necessary as MCP was now part of the governing alliance.
Said Hara: “A political party whose president has won an election forms the government and is called the ruling party. This means that MCP will now be the ruling party.
“Members from all other political parties are deemed to be in the opposition. The DPP will be the lead opposition party, according to the provisions of Standing Order 35.”
She then went on to announce specific changes, including that of new Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda, who replaces Kondwani Nankhumwa who has now become Leader of Opposition.
Hara said: “I have also received communication on the leadership of the following parties in the House: MCP Richard Chimwendo Banda, is now Leader of the House; DPP Kondwani Nankhumwa, is the Leader of DPP who, in this case, will be the Leader of the Opposition, Bright Msaka is the deputy DPP leader and Symon Vuwa Kaunda is the DPP Whip while Mary Navicha is the Deputy Whip.”
However, Kasungu South East legislator Khumbize Chiponda questioned DPP’s choice of deputy leader as that does not apply to the opposition side according to the House’s Standing Orders.
People’s Party, also a Tonse Alliance member, has John Chikalimba as its Leader, Noah Chimpeni as Whip; and Ackson Kalaile Banda as deputy Whip.
In an interview after adjourning the House, Chimwendo Banda said they intend to present a new budget in line with the Tonse Alliance manifesto; hence, the possibility that the newly-appointed Minister of Finance, Felix Mlusu, will ask for a resolution for government to spend while a new budget is drafted.
Other changes include the announcement for consideration to change chairmanship of six constitutional committees which does not allow members of the government side to chair thus Budget; Legal Affairs; Public Appointments; Public Accounts; Defence and Security; and Government Assurances.
The House resumes sitting this afternoon after the Business Committee Meeting in the morning.