Business in Parliament grounded to a halt after disagreements between government side and the opposition following a ministerial statement on government declaration to increase school fees in secondary schools and the abolishment of Junior Certificate examinations.
The development forced the Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya to call for an early adjournment of the House proceedings degenerated into chaos with both sides failing to agree on how to proceed with Parliaments business.
Earlier, Minister of Education Science and Technology Dr Emmanuel Fabiano presented a ministerial statement which declared governments decision to increase school fees in secondary schools and abolishment of JC examinations.
Speaking after the ministerial statement Chiwaya guided the House that according to Parliamentary Standing Orders the statement was not subject to debate by members but rather only questions decision can be asked on the statement.
This did not go down well with the opposition who wanted the matter to be debated as it had far reaching consequences on ordinary Malawians.
Leader of Opposition Dr Lazarus Chakwera said as opposition they found it rather absurd that government decided to raise school fees in secondary schools when the country is going through the worst economic turmoil in living memory.
Chakwera argued that there were shortages of medical drugs in hospitals and majority of Malawians have no food at household level following the devastating floods and prolonged dry spells that hit the country last growing season.
“As opposition we feel that we will not ask any questions on the statement as this is a matter of national importance which could have been debated in this House to come up with a consensus. Suffice to say, we are registering that as the opposition we are not in favor of what is being proposed,” said Chakwera amid handclapping from the opposition side.
However, Leader of the House Francis Kasaila argued against Chakwera sentiments saying Malawians were paying Primary Schools fees during the MCP era although the country was poor.
He was booed and jeered by the opposition side who called him unprintable names, generating the House into uncontrollable chaos.
Stubbornly Kasaila then moved a motion to waiver all relevant Standing Orders so that he should table government business.
And when Chiwaya put the question the opposition carried the day by refusing to go into government business upon which government side asked for division which calls for the House to vote on the decision to be taken.
The vote went in favour of government side and opposition suffered a humiliating defeat owing to absenteeism of its rank and file in the House.
This further accelerated name calling and jeers in the Chamber turning it into a kindergarten class situation, a development which forced Chiwaya to call for an early adjournment.
Speaking in an interview, Leader of Peoples Party (PP) Ralph Jooma concurred with Chakwera that the matter was supposed to be subjected to debate.
“This is a very bad year to raise school fees taking into consideration the economic turmoil the country is going through. Government raised the price of subsidized fertilizer while goods and services are going up every day. The question is where will Malawians get the money for the raised school fees,” Jooma argued.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :