MCP returns to House as Govt ponders on extending sitting

Written by  Gladys Nthenda

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators returned to the House after tea-break on Tuesday after a Business Committee meeting agreed to look at the possibility of extending the current sitting to decide on the fate of the electoral reforms bill.

Chakwera is back in the house with his team (MPs) Chakwera is back in the house with his team (MPs)

Making the announcement, First Deputy Speaker told the House that following the meeting it transpired that most of the bills such as the Electoral Commission, Amendment Referendum and Transition Arrangement Bills are ready and will be circulated on December 7 as government is working on the remaining election related ones.


Ester Mcheka-Chilenje briefed the National Assembly on the likelihood of the sitting being extended beyond 15 December to enable them finalize on the remaining pieces of legislation.


Extending a special welcome to the MCP side with their return, the First Deputy Speaker said the Committee is expected to meet again before a comprehensive announcement on the position of the remaining bills is made.


Speaking in an interview following Mcheka-Chilenje’s pronouncements, Leader of the Opposition Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, stressed that what they want is for government to demonstrate its commitment on the electoral reforms.


Chakwera pointed out that they are not happy with the dilly dallying as evidenced by shifting of goal posts from the government side but nonetheless expressed hope that they will come back to them on time.


Asked if by their boycott they deprived their constituent’s participation, he defended the move arguing that it was for the common good and consolidation of democracy representing the voices of the people.


He further stated that the people he represents out there are happy to see democracy at work.


“Democracy is being consolidated by these reforms,” he enthused.


People’s Party Representative Ralph Jooma welcomed the extension which he hoped would help in processing of the Bill.


He further noted that for an extension to come, the government side has to accept it and that is what Malawians want.


Jooma explained that as a party they don’t have doubts that the extension will be done.


Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa stated that government will be consulting within its ranks to see how the matter can be handled noting that the 5 weeks they agreed on was properly budgeted for hence needed to assess the feasibility of the proposal.


He said currently over K200 million is spent for members to meet for a week.


According to Nankhumwa the process of consultations for the bills took 2 years to come up with the recommendations; due to technicalities in drafting and scrutiny before being presented in the House.


He dismissed assertions from certain quarters of its fears over the electoral related bills.


“There are no fears; the bills are coming. We don’t fear anything.”


“We want to do things according to procedures and the Constitution of Malawi,” assured Nankhumwa.


Later on Parliament referred the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Bill to the Legal Affairs Committee for further scrutiny.

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