Office of the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya has clarified on the status and process of electoral reforms bill, saying if a bill is not gazetted, Parliament cannot do anything about it regardless of how urgent and important a matter is.
In a statement dated 28 November, 2017 , the office of the Speaker said that even if when a Government Bill has been gazetted and is in the public domain, Parliament will only begin debating the Bills 28 days after the date of gazetting according to the Standing Order 125 (2), or when there is a waiver of the 28 days notice requirement through a motion by Government side, which is provided for by Standing Orders 126.
“It must be noted that in all cases, the Business Committee of Parliament which is mandated to examine business items of the House also plays a role in that this is where the Executive, through the Leader of the House, indicates how it intends to priorities any bills from government side. The Speaker and indeed any other Member cannot overrule such prioritization as provided for by Standing Order 47 (3) and buttressed by the requirement of Standing Order 47 (4).”
Through the statement, the office of the Speaker said it wishes to inform the general public and members of the media, in particular, that bills follow the following two procedures namely Public Bills and Private Member’s Bills.
According to the statement, the bulk of the bills which the Parliament handles are Public Bills presented on behalf of the Government of Malawi by Cabinet Ministers. Private Members Bills are presented by Members of Parliament in their capacities as Backbenchers.
“Government Bills emanate from the Executive Branch of Government. The Executive branch has its own internal procedures which must be satisfied before the Bills are approved for presentation in the House. Parliament of Malawi only takes over after such an approval which is signalled by the delivery, to the Clerk of Parliament, a soft copy of a particular Bill and sufficient copies of hard copies of a Bill that has been gazetted.
“Private Member’s Bills emanate from private Members as provided for by Standing Order 122. Once a motion moved by a private Member has been adopted by the House it means the House has agreed and authorized that Member to draft and bring in a Bill based on that motion.”
Adding “Parliament only comes in to assist a private Member in drafting of a Private Member’s Bill as provided for by Standing Order 122 (6). Thereafter, a private Member’s Bill follows the same procedures such as the 28 days notice and all the stages in the House before it is passed.”
The statement therefore said that it is very clear from the procedures above, that neither the Speaker nor his Office can introduce a Bill in the House. A Government Bill is introduced by the Government and a Private Member’s Bill by the relevant Member.
The explaination comes after members of the clergy announced to hold a national wide demonstration on 13 December, 2017 especially because of the of President Peter Mutharika and Speaker’s office failure to respond to their petition within a given period.
Over 16 Civil Society Organisations, donors community and opposition parties demand that the bill should be tabled within the current sitting of Parliament.
However, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is said not to like the bill.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :