Outspoken Member of Parliament for Mzimba West, Harry Mkandawire took time to commend Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya for his decision to stop Mwanza Central member of Parliament (MP) Davies Katsonga (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) to violate the dress code as provided under Parliamentary Standing Order 104(c).
Katsonga, himself a former Speaker of Parliament, entered the Parliament chamber clad in a traditional Ngoni head gear made from animal skin, which led to Dedza South West MP Clement Mlombwa (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), to ask the Second Deputy Speaker if wearing Ngoni headgear in Parliament was in order.
After consultations, Chiwaya ruled Katsonga out of order, saying men were not allowed to wear headgears in the chamber.
Said the Second Deputy Speaker: “Parliamentary Standing orders clearly stipulate what type of dressing members have to follow. The freedom on headgear is only given to women; and not men unless it [the dress code] is reviewed by the Legal Affairs Committee. It is, therefore, my ruling that headgears or traditional wear by men should not be part of our dressing in this House, at this point in time. I repeat, we have mechanisms in which we can change whatever Standing Orders we have. These rules as we always say can be changed once a consensus of the whole House is reached.”
Katsonga who challenged the ruling, saying the Speaker was not fair in deciding the matter before consultations with the Legal Affairs Committee.
“All I am seeking is clarity from the chair from the said relevant committee before ruling on the matter, but if that is the case, Mr. Speaker, I challenge you. I will gladly accept Standing Order 105 and accept to leave the chamber,” he said.
“ I am an Impi for Maseko Ngoni, so appointed by Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani Maseko IV. I still hold that position in that culture,” said Katsonga before he walked out of the House in protest.
But standing on a point of order, Mkandawire said Chiwaya deserved congratulations for his ruling on dress code.
“I think it is terribly out of order for [Katsonga] to think that because he is an advisor to a chief then he is entitled to dress anyhow. Some of us are actually more senior than him. I am a Ngoni Chief myself. I receive money from government, for being a chief, and his position is very junior. Now, if a mistake was made, I was going to wear a Ngoni gear, which is more superior to his,” he said.