Former Speaker Henry Chimunthu-Banda has given tips on who should be elected head of the legislative arm of government, saying a Speaker must possess such qualities as “fairness, good judgment, decisiveness, patience and a good sense of humour.”
Parliament elects among its members a Speaker and two deputy speakers during the first session of a new National Assembly after a general elections.
The House in Malawi sits from Monday where the Speaker and two deputies will be elected.
Four lawmakers have already confirmed plans to vie for the post of parliament speaker when the house convenes for its first meeting next week. They include Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesman Dr Jessie Kabwira, veteran MP Joseph Njovuyalema, MCP vice President Richard Msowoya, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member Dr George Chaponda.
Chimunthu in a newspaper interview dispelled the notion that a Speaker should be a lawyer, saying any Member of Parliament can be elected Speaker of Parliament so long he or she is not a Minister or Deputy Minister and that even first-timers can be considered for the position.
However, Chimunthu said, considering the pivotal role played by the Speaker in the promotion of parliamentary democracy, “it is customary to have the position filled by a dedicated, senior and experienced parliamentarian who has an intimate understanding of the parliamentary life.”
Chimunthu said a Speaker must be fair and impartial to sustain the trust of members on both sides of the House.
“In fact, the hallmark of speakership is impartiality in the execution of official duties. He or she must allow MPs to freely air out their differences of opinions without let or hindrance. Most importantly, a proper balance has to be found between the minority and the majority groups while the minority may have their say, the majority may have their will. The voice of the minority must be heard and protected as the majority carries the day,” said Chimunthu who has served as Speaker from 2009 to 2014.
He also advised that a Speaker must “all times remain cool and calm even when everybody else is losing their heads during heated debates.”
Advised Chimunthu: “A Speaker must not be lacking in good temper and good humour which are key ingredients for quelling volatile situations in the “
He explained that the Speaker is the arbiter of the House and also the spokesperson between the State and the institution of Parliament.
Chimunthu said it is also the duty of the Speaker to represent Parliament in such bodies as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Pan African Parliament and Sadc Parliamentary Forum.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :