Parliament Meeting Over Budget From June 5 for Seven Weeks
Speaker of the Malawi National Assembly Catherine Gottani Hara says parliament will meet for seven weeks from June 5.
Hara says this will be a budget meeting of the house but did not rule out other discussions given the political atmosphere in Malawi at the moment.
“In consultation with the president, my office has set June 5 as the start of the budget meeting of parliament,” she said.
The meeting, which most people looked up to, is also expected to discuss the date for the fresh presidential election which the courts ordered to take place within 150 days from February 3, 2020. The meeting will be expected to turn into a heated political beehive given the build-up to the fresh presidential election.
On the day parliament will start deliberations, contracts for all commissioners at the Malawi Electoral Commission will have expired and with the stepping down of MEC chairperson Dr. Jane Ansah a week ago.
While chairperson of the committee Kezzie Msukwa, says he has written the Malawi Electoral Commission for it to gazette 23 June as date of holding the fresh election, private practice lawyer Chrispine Sibande says parliament is critical to this.
“Parliament needs to meet urgently to review existing laws in line with Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judgments. Malawi Electoral Commission has to be re-constituted urgently to prepare for these elections. Unfortunately time is running out and the 150 days are coming to a close,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, has warned the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament against single handedly setting a date for the fresh presidential election arguing that such a mandate only falls with parliament sitting in plenary.
Kaphale said this in a letter dated May 22, 2020 addressed to chairperson of the legal affairs committee Kezzie Msukwa copied to MEC chairperson.
“I am of the view that your committee has misdirected itself and committed a grave error of law by believing that it can resolve to set a date for the fresh presidential election and dictate the same to the Malawi Electoral Commission.
“To begin with, your committee…is not Parliament at all. It is simply a committee of Parliament,” writes the AG to the chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of parliament noting that the direction of the Supreme Court was for Parliament to carry out the task of setting up a date.
“The date for an election of the president that is other than that for the election of members of the National Assembly must be provided for in the Constitution and only Parliament, and not a committee thereof, can effect the legislative intervention to enact for the new date,” he said.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale is now demanding information from the Legal Affairs Committee of parliament on legal advice the committee sought from private lawyers with regard to the setting up of the date for the fresh election.
Meanwhile, President Peter Mutharika is this week expected to notify the Judicial Service Commission to nominate judges for consideration of appointment of new MEC Chairperson.
Presidential Spokesperson, Mgeme Kalirani says the president is treating the matter with the urgency it deserves.