President Peter Mutharika has snubbed an invitation from parliament to answer a myriad of questions on the state of the economy and the persistent food shortage across the country.
Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya said Mutharika had delegated line ministers, including Finance minister Goodall Gondwe to answer the questions.
Opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera who is also the president’s traditional political foe, Mzimba south west MP Harry Mkandawire, Rumphi east MP Kamlepo Kalua summoned Mutharika in writing with questions.
“The President has indicated that he will not be able to appear in person,” said Speaker Msowoya.
Kalua said he wanted Mutharika to face His Excellency’s Question Time (HEQs) style-session of food situation and Malawi situation since holding the executive to account is one of the three responsibilities of parliament.
Mutharika was supposed to appear in the House on Wednesday to answer the questions in view of increasing problems facing the country amid calls that the Mutharika administration is slow in dealing with the problems that have contributed to the sharp rise in cost of life.
However, this did not go down well with the opposition who wanted Mutharika to answer the questions in person.
The Speaker said the law allows the head of state to delegate the answering of the questions to any cabinet minister, emphasising that the President had not broken any law.
Mutharika could have been the second head of state to answer questions from backbenchers live in parliament after Bakili Muluzi in the mid 1990s.
According to Section 89 (3) of the Constitution, the President is required to submit himself before Parliament without necessarily being invited by anyone as he does with the State of the Nation Address.
The call for HEQs have received backing from the civil society with Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo saying Mutharika should appear before Parliament.
Malawian professor of law based at the University of Cape Town, Danwood Chirwa, clarified that the President does not have to be called by Parliament to answer questions posed by MPs for the HEQs.
Chirwa said the President “is constitutionally obliged to appear before Parliament every year, immediately before the consideration of the budget, to do [the said] three related things.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :