There was commotion in Parliament Thursday when State Vice-President Saulos Chilima appeared before the august House to answer questions in his capacity as Minister for Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms.
The main question that brought Chilima to the House was from Mzimba North legislator Yeremiah Chihana, who wanted to understand policies differentiating the Malawi (MW) 2063 from Vision 2020.
The situation turned sour when Chihana stood up on a supplementary question.
Chihana used the opportunity to tell the House that the Vice President was underperforming because he has been overshadowed by Secretary to the President Zangazanga Chikhosi.
Amid booing from the government side, Chihana failed to obey orders from the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Madalitso Kazombo calling on him to resume his seat.
Kazombo had no choice but to call for security personel to send Chihana out of the chamber.
Chihana told journalists that the issue he was trying to address was a constitutional provision which should be properly looked at because the Vice President has no constitutional powers.
“It was mandatory for me to reflect on reforms, especially that he (Chilima) is the Minister of Reforms, but he has no constitutional powers to handle reforms,” he said.
He added that the head of the Civil Service is the President and the Vice President is just delegated, which means he could not deliver on the needed reforms unless they were under the Office of the President and headed by office of the Secretary to the President.
Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda said Chihana was not sent out for the remarks but for disobeying the Speaker.
“He has been taken out of the House for not obeying the Speaker, not for asking the question, and I would like to put this very clear. When the Speaker rose three times, he was supposed to obey,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa also called for the Legal Affairs Committee of the House to look into the issue and establish how to treat the Vice President.
He added that he did not like the commotion in the House and the way questions were asked, further commending the Vice President for appearing in Parliament.
Prior to the incident, Chilima outlined policy areas that differentiate the Malawi 2063 from Vision 2020.
Among other things, he said the 2020 Vision focused on poverty reduction while the MW2063 seeks to achieve sustainable wealth creation.
He also said the previous vision had many areas of focus but the current one has limited areas of focus.
Chilima said the Political Parties Act must be amended so that political parties can align their manifestos to MW2063.
The Vice President said all regimes should be working in line with the MW2063 because it represents the aspirations of Malawians, which were reached after thorough consultations with stakeholders.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.