DPP bemoan Parliament meeting delays

One of the country’s opposition parties, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has bemoaned failure by President Joyce Banda to call for final meeting of Parliament after its dissolution.

Parliament was dissolved on March 20th without meeting and was slated to meet in the first week of April for a final session, which was scheduled to discuss two forensic audit reports on the plundering of tax-payers’ money- K13.6 billion and K92 billion respectively- at Capital Hill in Lilongwe christened as Cashgate scandals.

However, there is no sign or communication from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as to when the august House will meet with the outgoing Speaker, Chimunthu Banda saying his office was still waiting for President Banda to make a call on the much awaited meeting.

Chaponda: We needs a sitting of parliament before elections
Chaponda: We needs a sitting of parliament before elections

Section 67 (4) of the Constitution allows the president to call for emergency or extra ordinary meeting of parliament, which falls out of normal National Assembly’s calendar.

DPP’s outgoing leader in Parliament, Dr. George Chaponda told Nyasa Times in an interview the party was not surprised with President Banda’s “ tactics” in delaying  in summoning Parliament meeting, arguing “she has a tendency of contradicting herself; she says one thing and does the other”.

Chaponda said the onus is on Malawians to push for government to call for the meeting which he described as crucial in the light of two Cashgate forensic audit reports.

“We are very concerned that we will go to the elections without Parliament meeting to discuss the Cashgate report, the jetgate and maizegate reports. There are various committees’ reports and other issues of national interest that have not been discussed,” lamented Chaponda.

And Chancellor College of the University of Malawi (Unima) political scientist, Dr. Mustapha Hussien said failure for Parliament to meet would create disorder as there will be no proper handovers when next august House comes in after May 20th elections.

“If they don’t meet, then they will leave things in an un-orderly manner. There will be no proper handovers and that is one of the problems making our Parliament failing to operate effectively. They have a calendar, they know when it was expected to meet, which outclass the argument on why Parliament is not meeting by now,” Hussien said.

Hussien noted the delay to call for the meeting might be influenced by fear by some of the responsible officials like the Speaker to pressurise the president to call for the assembly.

“Since the powers are in the hands of the President to summon Parliament in consultation with the Speaker; it is obvious that people are just afraid to confront her to call for the meeting. If it’s necessary, it will be even better if some of the President Powers are reduced to ensure such scenarios as we are now are not repeated,” he said.

He added: “Government might argue there is no money currently to call for Parliament meeting but it should be noted that democracy is expensive. There are so many issues that need to be discussed and it will be unwise if, after dissolution of Parliament, such issues are not discussed”.

The one who was Leader of the House before dissolution of parliament,  Henry Phoya told the local media this week the communication on the meeting was expected to come from the Speaker and the President.

When the Business committee of parliament met in February, Phoya told the media that Parliament failed to meet before dissolution due to lack of funds.

There are two forensic audit reports that have been released on looting of public funds at Capitol Hill, one on over K13.6 billion stolen under president Joyce Banda’s two-year term and, the other one on K92 billion allegedly misappropriated under DPP’s era.

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