Parliament has elected Catherine Gotani Hara, a lawmaker with main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as first woman Speaker of the National Assembly.
Gotani Hara, member of parliament for Mzimba North East MP, was elected after defeating her only competitor, Esther Mcheka- Chilenje another female legislator for Nsanje North of ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Mangochi Monkey Bay MP (DPP) Ralph Jooma nominated Mcheka Chilenje for Speaker while Lilongwe Msozi North MP (MCP) Sosten Gwengwe nominated Gotani Hara .
Gwengwe said Gotani Hara could guarantee the independence and autonomy of Parliament.
He urged members to look beyond politics and elect someone who will unite Parliament, represent their interests and that of the nation.
The new Speaker, who replaces Richard Msowoya, was elected with 97 votes in a secret ballot against 93 votes, according to results announced by Clerk of Parliament, Fiona Kalemba .
Gotani Hara is a graduate of University of Malawi at Chancellor College on political science and had further studies at University of Brighton in United Kingdom where she graduated with a Postgraduate Degree in International Development and Project Planning and Management.
She was the first Malawian to be recruited to the level of Programme Officer,for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), where she was responsible for the twin sustainable livelihoods programmes of Malawi and Mozambique. Some of the examples of the key successful projects on which she worked and developed her technical expertise including negotiation skills include:
- The Banja La Mtsogolo network of health clinics in Malawi.
The multi-million Kwacha first Starter Pack programme funding to the Malawi Govt.
- The Safe motherhood programme.
- The fish export project between Mozambique and the EU.
Gotani Hara is a former Cabinet minister.
Voting for First Deputy Speaker and Second deputy speaker is still underway.
There are two candidates for First Deputy Speaker, Chitipa South MP (DPP) Werani Chilenga and Kasungu East MP (Independent) Madalitso Kazombo.