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APM to Deliver SONA to Parliament via Recorded Audio

Parliament: Meeting begins June 5 Parliament: Meeting begins June 5 File Photo

President Peter Mutharika shall not physically go to Parliament June 5th for the traditional State of the Nation Address but instead deliver it in a recording.

This was agreed during a Business Committee of Parliament meeting Wednesday, according to acting spokesperson for Parliament, Ian Mwenye.

This, according to Mwenye, is part of the procedures on prevention of spread of the corona virus since, traditionally, the State-of-the-Nation-Address attracts the presence of large numbers of people in the precincts of parliament.

Parliament of Malawi has put in place exclusive guideline to govern conduct of meetings of the house during the period of the pandemic.

Most of the guidelines have been spelt out in a communication dated May 21, 2020 to all parliamentarians by Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gottani Hara.

Among other things, plenary will be held for no more than two hours each day and every sitting of the house shall not be attended by more than 100 members seated in numbered seats and shall not be allowed to change seats.

Parliamentarians aged above sixty and those with pre-existing medical conditions are encouraged to work from lodges for their health and safety and shall only be allowed to avail themselves at Parliament for substantive voting.

Political party whips will be expected to ensure that all their parliamentarians are allowed a chance in the 193-member-parliament are given opportunity to attend sittings by submitting nominations to the Clerk of Parliament.

Save for limited paper documents, all plenary documents shall only be accessible electronically, according to the new guidelines.

“Questions to Ministers shall be in writing, and these will be responded to in writing and posted on designated areas. Each member will use designated microphones, and no sharing of microphones will be encouraged,” reads part of the communication from the Speaker.

Parliament is expected to stream proceedings live on its Facebook page, twitter account and local radio and TV stations which the public is being encouraged to follow.

This budget meeting of parliament is expected to turn into an arena for preparations of the court ordered fresh presidential election whose date has yet to be officially set.


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