Malawi parliament has cracked the whip on truant legislators who absent themselves from National Assembly business, saying they risk having their K80 000 daily allowance deducted.
Second Deputy Speaker Aisha Mambo Adams communicated that the Business Committee—which comprises the leadership of political parties on both sides of the House—have made the resolution.
“Honourable Members, the Business Committee deliberated on issues to do with absenteeism in both Plenary as well as Committee meetings by Honourable Members for various reasons. The Business Committee resolved that: In line with Standing Order 41, Members will be required to seek leave of absence.
“ In this case, Members will have to complete specially designed forms for consideration and approval by the Right Honourable Speaker; Political party Whips will be vital in the approval process of the application for leave of absence; and Forms will be available through the Secretariat,” Madam deputy speaker said.
Members of Parliament (MPs) get K40 000 per day as subsistence allowance and K10 000 sitting allowance which is paid out before the meeting starts.
The House has always been at pains on how to penalise absconding MPs who claim allowances, but do not show up for proceedings because the Standing Orders do not expressly indicate the process.
The Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa told parliament that the communications from Madam Second Deputy Speaker is “a true reflection” of what transpired in the Business Committee.
Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Chief Whip Lobin Lowe also confirmed that is the resolutions of the Business Committee meeting.
“Allow me to add on the sanity of Committee meetings. It was observed that in the last parliamentary tenure, there was no sanity so the Business Committee agreed that from today all Committee meetings, especially stakeholder meetings will be restricted to Committee Members. Participation will be restricted to invitation, especially where Joint Committee is concerned,” added Lowe.
United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Lilian Patel also confirmed that the communication was the resolution of the business committee.