Malawi government has committed and assured Members of Parliament that the law enforcement agencies will follow National Assembly Powers and Privileges Act where none of them will face arrests while Parliament is meeting, adding the police erred in arresting MP Jessie Kabwila after attending parliament and other lawmakers previously.
Leader of government in Parliament, Francis Kasaila made the assurance following the motion that was moved by the member for Lilongwe North East Maxwell Thyolera who asked for adjournment of parliament up until the government made commitments and assurance that it will grant them their privileges enshrined in the section 60 not to be arrested when the parliament is meeting.
Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya on Tuesday adjourned Parliament proceedings after the arrest of two Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators Peter Chakhwantha of Lilongwe South West and Jessie Kabwila of Salima North-West and spokesperson for party as well as Ulemu Msungama, the party’s executive member.
The decision was received with cheers from opposition benches and prompted some MPs to verbally attack the government side for being undemocratic, who described President Peter Mutharika’ leadership as “dictatorial”.
“You said you would not arrest people without any reason, what are you doing, what is this? Is this not a police State? [Malawi] is a democratic country and we have the right to stop whatever you are trying to do,” shouted one member in the House.
But on Wednesday Kasaila told the house that as am government they indeed agree that police were at fault for the arrest of the two MCP lawmakers, as well as the arrest of United Democratic Front (UDF) Member of Parliament Shaibu Kaliati and former deputy speaker Jones Chingola.
Kasaila said the business committee of parliament met and discussed the issues of privileges.
“I t was very clear that the provision of privileges act was violated in number of occasion that member of parliament were arrested without following procedures and that all of us we have agreed.
“It is the commitment of government that will make sure that the provision of act in as far as the procedure they are followed as to the law that is important for all of us and to the future of our country and as government I’m giving that commitment that is the commitment from the President as well that the provision from the act will be followed “,Kasaila said
Addressing the members on communication from the business committee, Speaker Richard Msowoya said the committee has agreed that the speaker’s office should be informed on the arrest of any MP in line with section 4 of national assembly powers and privileges act and that they expect police not to arrest any MP while parliament is meeting unless procedure as provided for in powers and privileges and section 60 are adhered to.
“My office will also write the minister of home affairs and internal security advising her that the mounting of road blocks and arrest of members of parliament while the house is meeting should not be repeated unless the relevant laws are complied with.
“ I wish to assure the house that parliamentary committee on privileges will be handling matters related to the breach of members of parliament privileges as provided for in its mandate,” Msowoya said
Commenting, leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera described the agreement as “best interest of our nation”
The mover of the motion, MP Thyolera said “Assurances from Government must be adhered to”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :