Malawi MPs decry not being given enough time to debate President’s speech

Members of Parliament may be given extra time to debate President Dr Joyce Banda’s state of the nation address after the opposition benches complained they were not given enough time to make their contributions.

Rising on a point of order member of parliament for Lilongwe Msozi South Dzoole Mwale said time allocated for deliberations was not adequate because a lot of bills were tabled during the five days the August House was supposed to debate the President’s speech.

He said: “Bills mostly dominate proceedings hence limiting the time and number of members who could have made contributions.”

Speaker of the House, Henry Chimunthu Banda on Monday announced the business committee of parliament had agreed that debate on the state- of-the- nation address would end on Friday morning and the 2013/14 budget to be presented in the afternoon hours of the same day.

Masebo: Diagreed with Phoya
Masebo: Diagreed with Phoya

However, as Leader of the House Henry Phoya was about to move a motion to conclude the debate, a majority of the opposition were of the view that most members did not have the chance to make their contributions.

Phoya said since the business committee already made a decision on how the debate will proceed, changing it will mean the house’s rules are not being followed.

“We are ‘diluting’ the business committee’s decision but the concerns raised have been noted. The committee will meet to discuss if extra days can be allocated to allow further contributions,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Chitipa North, Nick Masebo disagreed with Phoya’s suggestion for extra days to be allocated saying having two parallel debates will be confusing and irrelevant since focus will turn from the state- of- the -nation address to the budget.

Despite the Speaker sharing Phoya’s view that continuing with debate beyond the days set aside by the business committee will be flouting parliament laws, the matter has been referred back to the committee for discussions.

Parliament is meeting for six weeks since Friday May 17th for the budget sitting.

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