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Deputy Speakers drag Parliament to Court

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The High Court in Blantyre has granted leave for judicial review to Deputy Speakers Esther Mcheka- Chilenje and Clement Chiwaya, restraining Parliament from revising downwards their housing allowances.

The two deputies are entangled in a housing allowance scam purportedly for drawing extra housing allowances under the pretext that they were staying in rented houses when in actual fact the houses belonged to them.

Last month, Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) which is chaired by Speaker Richard Msowoya, made a determination that the two deputies were ‘illegally’ drawing more than what is entitled to them and, therefore, the allowance be revised from K550,000 to K250,000 a month.

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Court documents sourced by The Daily Times show that Justice Dorothy Kamanga granted leave to apply for judicial review on November 18, 2015.

Speaker Richard Msowoya has not made any announcement in the House on the court order, despite some members agitating that the matter be debated by the House.

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.”

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Lawyer for the deputies Frank Mbeta confirmed the development in interview Monday evening.

“What it means is 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 matter is expected to come for hearing on December 18,” said Mbeta.

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

A Member of Parliament who did not want to be named confided in this paper that a motion has already been drafted ready for tabling this coming Thursday.

Said the source: “We cannot allow the deputies to continue working when there are these reports of illegal pocketing of allowances hanging over their heads. It’s nothing personal we just want to see justice being done, if they will be cleared then they will be free to preside over proceedings.”

Chiwaya and Chilenje declared their houses as belonging to estate agents, thereby forcing Parliament to give an extra K300, 000 a month, since it was perceived that the houses belonged to them.

In her written response to the query by PSC dated 21st August 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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