Members of Parliament (MPs) Monday reviewed and introduced new measures that would enhance security at Parliament premises, which includes the screening of people entering the Parliament building, following the death of former deputy speaker of Parliament Clement Chiwaya.
Chiwaya shot himself inside Parliament building on September 30 where he went to discuss his vehicle benefits.
As Parliament resumed the 49th session, security-related matters dominated the deliberations as some members of Parliament expressed worry over the security at the House and agreed on corrective measures to enhance security.
The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament said Business Committee of Parliament directed the review of Standing Orders 91 and 92—that have to do with security—as one way of enhancing security at Parliament.
Both Speaker of the House, Catherine Gotani Hara and the committee’s Chairperson Peter Dimba, indicated that the review of the standing orders followed the death of the former deputy speaker of Parliament.
Presenting the report Monday, Dimba said all parliamentarians, ministers and any person visiting the Parliament would now be subjected to screening upon entry, except President and the Vice President who are exempted from the screening.
He said this process would ensure that no person enters the House with a weapon.
Dimba further indicated that any legislator or minister who would not comply with being screened would be sent back and his allowance for the day would be forfeited.
“We are trying to enhance the security. This has been necessitated by the sad incident whereby the former deputy speaker, honourable Clement Chiwaya shot himself in the office of Clerk,” Dimba said.
Leader of the House, Richard Chimwendo Banda, also weighed in by indicating that it was necessary for security officers at Parliament to be allowed to do their jobs.
Banda, who is the Minister of Homeland Security, said the lawmakers should allow the officers to do further screening on them if there would be a need to do so.
Chiwaya served as a lawmaker for Mangochi Central Constituency for three consecutive terms from 2004 to 2019 under the United Democratic Front.
He was elected Second Deputy Speaker during his last term in Parliament, 2014 to 2019.
Chiwaya shot himself in the office of Clerk of Parliament. He reportedly left a suicide note behind, expressing his frustration with the implementation of conditions of service.
Parliament has also amended Section 46 which talks about the placement of items on an order paper of Parliament to avoid placing items without the knowledge of necessary authorities within the House.
Dimba said every item would now be vetted by the Speaker and Leader of the House as opposed to the past when it was being vetted by only the clerk.
Dimba said this is a result of the incident that happened at Parliament in which a K93 billion loan authorisation bill to allow government to borrow was allegedly smuggled into the House.
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.