Chaos in parliament, two DPP members suspended

By Julius Caleon Mbewe

There was chaos in Parliament on Thursday morning amid deliberations on the Constitution Amendment Bill after Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Chitipa East legislator, Kezzie Msukwa, moved the motion for the amendment of the Constitution.

Disagreement ensued after minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Bright Msaka, said the motion for the amendment of the Constitution, especially Section 77, cannot be effected only by Parliament, but through a referendum.

According to the referred sections, all persons shall be eligible to vote in any general election, by-election, presidential election, local government election or referendum, subject only to this section.

The development brought confusion in the August House as there was finger pointing between the two sides, prompting Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara to impose Standing Order 105, ordering Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Machinga Central East legislator, Daudi Chikwanje and Thyolo West MP, who is also Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works, Charles Mchacha to leave the house.

Despite the speaker imposing such order, the two lawmakers did not comply with the directive and were seen manhandling the sergeant at arms and parliamentary security staff right in the chamber a development which led to the suspension of the session.

Later when the house resumed in the afternoon, the speaker announced a two days suspension of the two legislatures saying “they acted contrary to decorum of the House as the mess which sergeant at arms carried is a symbol of authority”.

Gotani Hara said: “The Business Committee condemn the behavior of attacking the members of staff by or for example persistently mentioning names of clerks at the table as well as using abusive language towards them therefore members are being advised to refrain from this unfortunate behavior.”

The speaker has also referred the matter to the Parliamentary Service Commission to act on the conduct by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Francis Phiso and Blantyre City South East Constituency lawmaker Sameer Suleman.

Meanwhile MPs have defeated a constitutional amendment to have a provision for a run-off if presidential candidates do not get 50+ 1 votes in an election following its failure to get a ⅔ votes in the house.

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