The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MP for Blantyre City South East), Victor White Mbewe caused commotion in parliament when he was found with a loaded pistol when entering parliament.
This caused disturbance in National Assembly when Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lingson Belekanyama stood on point asking the Speaker to adjourn the house until government side assures the safety of opposition members of parliament inside and outside the chamber.
Belekanyama asked the Speaker to suspend the proceeding for the day as members of parliament from opposition benches are feeling insecure with the news that the government Member of Parliament has been caught with a gun – as there are reports of planned terror attacks on opposition members.
While acknowledging that it’s not allowed for anyone even member of parliament to bring say offensive material to the house, Speaker Richard Msowoya said he could not suspend the proceeding as that is not stated anywhere in parliamentary standing orders.
Msowoya quoted standing 91 which says any member shall be searched before he or she enters the chamber and standing order 92 prohibit any member to bring offensive and dangerous weapon to the house but said there is no punishment stipulated to those found with the weapon.
This did not go well with opposition benches as several members of parliament stood up to speak on point order against Msowoya’s decision to rule out Belekanyama.
Peoples Party (PP) acting president who is also leader of the party in the house, Uladi Mussa added his voice to the issue advising the Speaker that even though the standing orders are silent on what to be done, as former minister of home affairs what he knows is that the said member was first supposed to declare that he had a gun and should have left it in the car not in the chamber as that is against law.
Cabinet ministers and MPs are among people privileged to apply to possess firearms. When they are given such licences, the guns need to be registered with the Malawi Police Service.
Belekanyama wondered why the Speaker can’t act, saying it is a serious issue to do with their safety.
“Mr Speaker Sir, this is serious issue today a member of parliament bringing a gun in this house and being caught by good and patriotic security officer right there at the door , and this is not simple to us in as far as our safety is concern.
“We also noted the presence of National Intelligence Bureau two officers in visitors gallery moving around this house and the same day it’s when we had frequent black out with electricity powers going off and on, were really worried we dint know if we’re safe here Mr Speaker Sir,” Belekanyama said.
During all this time the government benches was quiet and never responded to the opposition.
In 2002 lawmakers demanded to be allowed to carry firearms, to parliament if necessary, after they were told police could not guarantee their security.
The call was made at after the then Home Affairs Minister Monjeza Maluza revealed that the six-thousand-strong police force did not have the resources to protect all 193 lawmakers.
Joseph Njobvuyalema of MCP demanded of the minister to “authorise MPs to acquire, move about and even carry firearms to parliament for their security.”
The demand, which received a lot of support from the opposition benches, was opposed by the minister.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :