Malawi Parliament on Thursday descended into confusion as United Democratic Front (UDF) legislators took turns to stand on a point of order to discuss what they called “12 years tourtre” of former President Bakili Muluzi, saying his corruption case should be get to logical conclusion.
Balaka Central East MP Aufi Mpaweni and Rashid Pemba of Mangochi Masongola all standing on point of order wanted the matter of Muluzi to be discussed in the House.
But the Speaker Richard Msowoya stopped them, saying matter in court could not be subject to debate.
Mangochi South member of Parliament (MP), who is also UDF chief whip, Lillian Patel stood to say: “People of Mangochi South and UDF throughout the country are sick and tired with the torture of former president Bakili Muluzi… if you want to arrest him it kill him then..”
The Speaker switched Patel’s microphone off.
Other members such as Mangochi East MP Abubakar Mbaya, Mangochi Central East MP Ernest Yahaya, Idi Kalosi of Mangochi North East, Mangochi South West MP Justin Majawa and Mangochi Lutende MP Francis Billiat were rising to speak.
Others were Mulanje South MP Bon Kalindo (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP), Lilongwe North East MP Maxwell Thyolera (Malawi Congress Party, MCP) who stood to speak in support of UDF concerns.
And outspoken Mzimba West legislator Harry Mkandawire also stood to contribute but Speaker stood his ground to stop the debate.
“I am no gagging you members, I am simply providing guidance how this should be tackled,” said Speaker who directed that a formal motion be moved to debate the issue.
Leader of Opposition in the House Lazarus Chakwera suggested that it was better to give the issue time, saying the Speaker needed to consult further.
“It is no secret that I have lamented on the matter several times. The matter is of national importance that needs to be given a priority, but let the Speaker come with a conclusion, say, in an hours’ time,” he said.
As the House adjourned for lunch break, the Speaker announced that the issue could not be discussed as it is still in court.
“I have done consultations and provide my guidance, based on Standing Order 192, that it is not urgent and is within the jurisdiction of Judiciary, and I would consult with the leadership of the House further. But for now, let us continue with the business of the House,” he said.
The development comes after the Constitutional Court in Blantyre on Wensday made a landmark ruling by saying that Muluzi’s corruption case should continue to be heard after it had dragged for nearly 12 years.
In 2011 Muluzi, applied to the Constitutional Court but he later withdrew the case. However, through his lawyers Tamando Chokhotho and Jai Banda, he reapplied to the court to determine the constitutionality of section 32 (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA).
The State questions the former Head of State of K1.7 billion ($12 million) during his 1994-2004 presidency which was in his personal account.
Muluzi, 74, and his former personal secretary, Lyness Whiskey, are answering the charges of corruption on the money which government alleged was public funds diverted to the former President’s personal account.
The funds were reportedly given to Muluzi directly from Taiwan, Morocco and Libya for the campaign of late Bingu wa Mutharika, his hand picked successor under United Democratic Front (UDF).
The trial begun in 2006 and to date it has not been concluded, making it one of the most dragged high-profile criminal cases in the country.
The former president has denied any wrongdoing and claims the charges were politically inspired.
The trial opened in 2009 but has been subjected to several adjournments, partly because of Muluzi’s hospitalizations related to spinal problems. Both sides reject allegations that they have been deliberately delaying proceedings.
Local press reports indicate that the State had spent as much as $12 million on the case.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :