The opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has accused the Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara, of betrayal following the decision by the Speaker not to recognize member of Parliament (MP) for Machinga East, Esther Jolobala, as Commissioner for the party in the Parliamentary Service Commission.
Nyasa Times understand that after the Constitutional Court had nullified the Presidential Election on February 3, 2020, the former President Peter Mutharika reshuffled his cabinet to incorporate UDF members of Parliament (MPs) who had now entered into an electoral alliance with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
One of the UDF MPs to be appointed to ministerial posts was Mangochi South legislator, Lilian Patel, who was also representing UDF at the Parliamentary Service Commission.
The development prompted UDF to appoint Jolobala to replace Patel at the Commission.
But Hara has not acted on the instruction up to now. This has angered UDF, which suspects sabotage by the Speaker.
Nyasa Times has seen several communications UDF wrote Hara on the issue, to no avail.
For instance, on June 6, 2020, prior to the June 23 Fresh Presidential Election, the UDF Secretary General, Kandi Padambo, wrote Hara, asking her to recognize Jolobala as the Commissioner.
“We confirm the appointment of Jolobala as Commissioner to represent the party in the Parliamentary Service Commission. Please, kindly be guided accordingly and be assured of our highest consideration,” said Padambo in the letter.
On 7th August 2020, after the Fresh Presidential Election, Padambo wrote again advising the Speaker on the party’s position on the leadership of UDF in the National Assembly.
“We refer to your Ref. No. NA/SOP/18 dated 23rd June, 2020 in which you requested for information as to our leadership in the august House. We advise as follows: UDF Leader in Parliament, Hon. Lilian Patel, Deputy Leader in Parliament, Hon. Nedson Poya, Chief Whip, Hon. Rodrick Khumbanyiwa, Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Grant Ndecha, and Commissioner, Hon. Esther Jolobala. We wish you continued good health and well guided leadership of our National Assembly,” reads the letter.
But still Hara did not act, forcing Padambo to write again on 24th August 2020.
“We refer to your Ref. No. NA/SOP/18 dated 23rd June, 2020, our responding letter dated 7th August, 2020, and subsequent discussions regarding placement of UDF members in various positions tenable in the august House. In this letter, which supersedes all earlier correspondence and communication, from the United Democratic Front in an outside Parliament, we advise of our considered preference as follows: UDF Leader in Parliament, Hon. Nedson Poya, Deputy Leader in Parliament, Hon. Ishmael Nkumba, Chief Whip, Hon. Rodrick Khumbanyiwa, Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Grant Ndecha, and Commissioner Hon. Esther Jolobala. Please, be guided accordingly and be assured of our highest consideration,” he said in the letter.
While Hara has recognized positions of Poya, Nkumba, Khumbanyiwa and Ndecha, she is yet to grant the party’s wish on Jolobala.
But Padambo emphasized in an interview that the Speaker has no choice, but to respect the position of the party on the matter.
“We wrote another letter reaffirming our position. I hope she will. The party position has to be respected,” he said.
Jolobala wondered whether Hara was trying to pull her down politically by refusing to recognize her as advised by her sponsoring party.
“I just wonder if this spirit will help more women to rise in political positions. I was looking forward to receiving her support, but it is the opposite that I am getting from her,” lamented the legislator.
Hara had not yet responded to our questionnaire.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :