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Deputy Speakers’ case shifted to Jan

The High Court in Blantyre has adjourned to second week of January 2016 a case in which two Deputy Speakers, Clement Chiwaya and Esther Mcheka-Chilenje have dragged Parliament to court over house allowances.

Last month the court granted leave for judicial review to Mcheka- Chilenje and Chiwaya, restraining Parliament from revising downwards their house allowances.

The two deputies are accused of drawing extra house allowances under the pretext that they are staying in rented houses while the houses are said to belong to them.

In an interview on Monday lawyer for the two, Frank Mbeta, confirmed that the court met on Friday last week but failed to start hearing the review because he was away.

“I was outside the country and the case was adjourned to next session which begins on 11th January 2016. The actual date will be advised by the court,” Mbeta said.

Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) which is chaired by Speaker Richard Msowoya made a determination some months ago that the two deputies were ‘illegally’ drawing more than their entitlements and, therefore, the allowances be revised from K550,000 to K250,000 a month.

However, Justice Dorothy Kamanga granted leave to apply for judicial review on November 18 2015.

Reads the court order in part: “Leave to apply for judicial review is hereby granted against the decision of the respondents made on or about 6th October, 2015 revising downwards the rental entitlement of the applicants from the sum of K550, 000 each to the sum of K250, 000 each contrary to the terms and conditions of service of the applicants as communicated to them by the Clerk of Parliament through the memorandum dated 19th June 2015.”

According to Mbeta, the granting of leave for judicial review means that the court has seen enough reason to look into the matter to see if indeed the decision to revise the allowances was correct.

The leave for judicial review also came at a time when some members of Parliament had drafted a motion to be tabled in the House, stopping the deputies from discharging their duties until the issue is thoroughly investigated.

In her written response to the query by PSC dated August 21 2015, Chilenje stated: “I wish to state that in as far as the issue of housing is concerned, I have always been guided by the terms and conditions for the Deputy Speakers as furnished and confirmed by the Clerk of Parliament who is Secretary to the Parliamentary Service Commission and controlling officer of the National Assembly dated 19th June 2015.”

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