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Members of Parliament angry at own body

By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Some Members of Parliament (MPs) have declared that in the forthcoming meeting of Parliament which starts on November 19 they will impeach all members of Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

The members argue that PSC has failed to meet their expectations. They say PSC is not looking into their welfare.

Members of the commission include Speaker Richard Msowoya, Vitus Dzoole Mwale (Lilongwe Msozi South), Emily Chinthu Phiri (Nkhata Bay South), Ralph Jooma (Mangochi Monkey Bay), Aaron Sangala (Blantyre Malabada) and Abubaker M’baya (Mangochi East).

The MPs are also accusing the commissioners that since the appointment in 2014, they have never presented their annual report to the House.

The members are also accusing the commission of their frequent external travels which they say have been draining money that could be used for various committee meetings.

One member who spoke on condition of anonymity claimed, on average, each commissioner gets K4 million per week as allowance, which translates to over K80 million in four weeks.

According to a leaked WhatsApp group conversation from ‘MPs Forum’ Malawi News has seen, the members have vowed to remove the commissioners as soon as they reconvene next week.

 “Our commissioners, all they are doing now is globetrotting. They jump from one plane to another, spending weeks abroad and yet many MPs have never been even to Zambia,” one member said.

“When we converge, we should first remove the current commissioners before we vote for independence of Parliament. This commission deserves a medal of selfishness and incompetence,” reads part of the conversation.

In an interview, another member plotting the impeachment said the commissioners have been to Egypt and Algeria for weeks and “these are places Parliament has no connection whatsoever.”

The MP said they have been attending trainings in South Africa when, in just few months, they will face elections and this is no value for money.

According to the Member, Parliament is an oversight institution and, therefore, “it should be the last to exhibit such administrative malfeasance, Parliament should lead by example so that when it calls other branches to account, its actions, administrative and financial procedures should be beyond reproach”.

“Since they become PSC commissioners, they have not in a single day presented a single report on what they have been doing, why should Parliament as an oversight institution demand reports from other public institutions when our commission continues to violate the requirements of the their act by not presenting annual reports in Parliament,” said the Member.

But in a telephone interview, PSC spokesperson, Jooma, downplayed the allegations and the Members’ threats saying this cannot happen and it was just a mere talk by the members.

“Such threats are the order of the day in Parliament. From time to time, we have heard about threats to impeach Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya and Vice-President Saulos Chilima. They have not been serious threats,” Jooma said.

Further, the MPs are accusing the current commissioners for violating the requirements of the PSC Act to report annually to the House on all its administrative as well as financial matters.

The commission’s mandate is to administer Parliament, oversee financial and administration management.

Through the 1998 PSC Act, the National Assembly appoints five MPs from different political parties represented in the House to serve as commissioners led by the Speaker as chairperson.

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