Question time for the President. Malawi lawmakers want to bring British-style political grilling to the President in the National Assembly led by leader of opposition which is provided for in the country’s constitution, according to published report.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) MP for Lilongwe South West, Peter Chakhwantha, who is also chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, has said President Peter Mutharika should appear before parliament to be quizzed on state of the nation before the passing of the 2015/16 National Budget.
Chakhwantha said Malawi President is obliged to come before parliament to answer questions from MPs citing Section 89, Sub-section 3 of the Constitution demands that the President should appear before Parliament to undertake two remaining functions after the State of the Nation Address.
“According to this provision, it is a must that the President should come to Parliament to undertake three functions. One of them, which is the delivery of the State of the Nation Address, has already been undertaken.
“Then he is supposed to come to Parliament again to report on policies of the previous year. He is also supposed to respond to questions from members. The latter two obligations have to be undertaken before the budget is passed,” said Chakwantha as quoted in the Daily Times.
Chakhwantha argued that the provision that the President shall go to Parliament to undertake the three assignments should not be confused with Section 89, Sub-section 4 which says “the President shall be called” to Parliament, saying the former is not optional.
But the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale told the paper that Parliament was supposed to draft that agenda if it was necessary.
“The order paper contains questions that are supposed to be asked in the chamber. The process is the same; you cannot invite the President and ambush him with questions because some of the questions may require him to cite data. Ask honourable Chankhwatha if that has been done,” he said
In South Africa, for instance, it is mandatory for the president to appear before parliament and deliver the State of the Nation address before taking responses from MPs.
Political grilling in British parliament is held every Wednesday when the Prime Minister takes question first from opposition leader.
In South Africa, the President is often grilled by opposition MPs.
In the Daily Times report, Malawian professor of law based at the University of Cape Town, Danwood Chirwa, stated that the Malawi President does not have to be called by Parliament to answer questions posed by MPs but is “constitutionally obliged” to appear before Parliament every year.
According to Chakwantha, lawmakers will grill Mutharika on the controversial sale of Malawi Savings Bank (MSB).
Bakili Muluzi was the only president who appeared before parliament in Zomba and answered questions from MPs but since 1995 no president has appeared before the House for question time.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :