Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson and legislature Dr Jessie Kabwila rapped the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which won the disputed May 20 elections, saying “there is no government” following delays to appoint cabinet ministers by President Peter Mutharika.
Kabwila was speaking in parliament on Wednesday over an impasse on whether to proceed to debate the State of the Nation Address by Mutharika delivered on the opening of the budget meeting of Parliament on Tuesday without Cabinet and business committee of the House.
Opposition raised objections that the House would not debate the President’s address or make progress because as pointed out by former ruling People’s Party (PP) member for Salima South, Uladi Mussa “there is no executive.”
In her take, maverick speaker Kabwila said: “Our crisis is deeper than this. We have no government.”
Attracting cheers from opposition benches, Kabwila added: “We don’t have government. The government is busy planning wedding [President Mutharika and Gertrude Maseko]. They should give us a cabinet not a wedding.”
Leader of government business, Dr George Chaponda said Parliament has leadership, citing Leader of Opposition, MCP president Lazarous Chakwera, other party leaders and himself for government.
He said Constitution in Section 92 gives the President “prerogative” powers to hire a cabinet and that “there is no time limit.”
Chaponda emphatically said appointing cabinet ministers was the prerogative of the president and that nobody would pressurize him (Mutharika) to make hasty decisions as it was constitutional call to decide as he wished.
The parliamentarians were slated to start their maiden meeting in preparation for the “provisional l budget.”
The president traditionally presents a State of the Nation address to appraise Malawians with latest development and the next course of government’s initiatives.
Mutharika outlined his party’s vision for the next five years in the areas of governance, macro-economic reforms and social sectors such as health, education, agriculture and gender.
Since assuming top office, President Mutharika has yet to draw up a full government.
So far, he has only appointed Goodall Gondwe, an internationally acclaimed economist, to head up a hybrid Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.
Gondwe had headed up the same ministry before late former president Bingu wa Mutharika died in office in April 2012.
Speaker Richard Msowoya suspended Parliament so that leaders of parties should find way forward on business for the day and whether to use old or new Standing Orders.
Observers have said a parliamentary meeting without cabinet ministers was more likely to be less meaningful as some pertinent issues would not be attached to specific line ministers and thus reducing the possibilities of recourse to naught.
There have been fevered speculation over the when-abouts of Mutharika’s announcement of a cabinet- pitting the pressure a little more over the president as he tries to balance merit with the wish not to disappoint the new parliamentarians with any more delays.
The new parliamentarians are eager to venture into immediate action, while the president has to grapple with the fact that he has to appoint a cabinet that makes national sense- that is, in terms of merit, capabilities and gender balance.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :