Leader of Government in Parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa has taken a swipe at speaker Catherine Gotani-Hara accusing her of being biased against the government side during debates.
On Monday, the speaker deferred a motion on the confirmation of Duncan Mwapasa as Inspector General of police awaiting legal interpretation.
Nankhumwa has written the speaker saying the decision to curtail the debate on Mwapasa’s confirmation was politically motivated and dictatorial considering the precedents where time has been extended to allow members discuss and conclude important business in the house.
“I am well aware that you were elected to Parliament under the auspices of MCP, and that your immediate instincts would naturally drift towards your political party. However, the Office of Speaker of Parliament demands that you lose your partisan robes and discharge your duties based on competence and above-board integrity. I am afraid to conclude that this has not been the case with you so far. Instead, what I have observed is your acute pandering to narrow political interests and sometimes even plain disregard of Parliamentary ground rules. I am honestly shocked by your unbecoming conduct, Madam Speaker,” he said.
Nankhumwa, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development said the Speaker of Parliament has no mandate to overrule a decision of the House as he or she is merely a presiding official who facilitates parliamentary proceedings.
“I am disappointed that you do not appear to borrow a leaf from some of the world’s great female Speakers such as Baleka Mbete of South Africa; Erzsébet Metzker Vass of Hungary; Martha Chávez of Peru; Riitta Uosukainen of Finland; and Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl of Norway, among others. These are women of valour who have transcended gender barriers to discharge their work with above average diligence and integrity in the service of their respective nations.
He also blamed the speaker on the way She handled the issue of Democratic Progressive Party Member of Parliament for Blantyre City South East Sameer Suleman and Dowa East Malawi Congress Party legislator Richard Chimwendo Banda.
“We had Speakers such as the late Honourable Rodwell Munyenyembe from AFORD; we had the late Honourable Sam Mpasu from UDF; we had Honourable Louis Chimango; the immediate past Speaker, Honourable Richard Msowoya, both from MCP; and Honourable Henry Chimunthu Banda from DPP. None of these individuals displayed the level of partisanship and blatant arrogance in the way they discharged their speakership duties like you are doing.
“What is particularly worrying is the fact that you have been Speaker of Parliament for only just a few months, and with your kind of biased leadership, I fear for the future of this Parliament, especially regarding its role in providing checks and balances in a democracy,” reads the letter.
Gotani Hara, a member of MCP was elected in June this year to the post, making her the first Malawi’s female speaker.