DPP scuffle Cripples Pac
The raging infighting in opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has created a leadership crisis in the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament, forcing the committee’s secretariat to suspend all its scheduled meetings indefinitely.
In its communication to the committee members yesterday, the secretariat said the decision has been reached at due to the prevailing membership situation and confusion.
The notice, which we have seen, indicates that following an injunction that Member of Parliament (MP) for Mangochi South West Shadric Namalomba obtained, the constitution of the committee reverts to what it was before the election of Zomba Chisi legislature Mark Botomani as chairperson.
Namalomba belongs to a faction purportedly backed by DPP leader Peter Mutharika while Botomani is a loyalist of Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa who has been at loggerheads with the party’s other leaders for some time now.
“…This brings further confusion because our committee was legally and duly changed in membership. In any case, we are currently 22 members which is also against the Standing Orders.
“So, until that time when we are legally guided on which membership to follow and who to be recognised as chairperson, a matter which is before the court, then we cannot meet as a committee. Therefore, we are not meeting until further notice,” the notice reads.
Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye confirmed the development and promised to share details in due course.
Governance and political analyst Makhumbo Munthali yesterday said it is high time DPP put its house in order, saying it is unfortunate for the party’s squabbles to be affecting operations of Parliament.
But DPP Organising Secretary Chimwemwe Chipungu said it was wrong to point fingers at the party, saying the leadership in Parliament should shoulder the blame for failing to follow procedures in constituting committees.
“According to our Standing Orders in Parliament, the party’s Chief Whip spearheads formulation of committees in liaison with the party.
If that was not flouted we wouldn’t be having these problems. So the problem is not the party but individuals who are pushing themselves into positions,” Chipungu said.
The Party’s Chief Whip Julius Mwase, who is the second defendant in the case where Namalomba sued Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara, could not be reached through his mobile phone.
But Transparency and Accountability analyst Willy Kambwandira said leadership of the National Assembly should rise above the occasion and address the challenges that have rocked Pac.
Kambwandira said now that cases of misuse of public funds in the country are rife, the committee needed to be meeting regularly.
“Pac provides external oversight to government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
As such, the continued infighting in this committee limits its effectiveness to deliver its functions,” Kambwandira said.
According to a meeting schedule which we have seen, the committee was to meet from August 29 to September 29, 2022 and among key institutions it was supposed to meet is the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services.
Pac was reconstituted around July 18, 2022 following the expiry of tenure of office of Namalomba as chairperson, leading to Botomani’s election.
Namalomba obtained an injunction restraining Botomani from continuing carrying out functions of Pac chairperson.
Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said he challenged Namalomba’s injuction and the case is set for hearing on September 8.