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Opposition MPs boo George Chaponda

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Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and other opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday continuously booed and successfully stopped the embattled Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda, from answering any question in Parliament in his capacity as a Cabinet minister.

Immediately after Minister of Health, Peter Kumpalume, had finished responding to questions under his ministry, government Chief Whip, Henry Mussa, asked the house to concentrate on questions to Ministry of Agriculture then to Ministry of Education and thereafter Ministry of Transport and Public Works.

But MCP Member of Parliament for Kasungu South East, Khumbize Chiponda, rose and asked whether it is in order for lawmakers to continue recognising Chaponda and allow him to respond to questions in Parliament as Minister of Agriculture.

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Chiponda said people that are being represented in the house are not happy to see and hear that Chaponda continues to be a minister after his suspected corrupt conduct in the maize import scam, arguing that it is not good for parliamentarians to recognise such a person as minister.

However, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje ruled Chiponda out of order saying the office of the Speaker has not received any communication to the effect that Chaponda is not a Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.

Mcheka Chilenje then allowed Chaponda to provide a response to the question by Mzuzu City legislator, Leonard Njikho.

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Member of Parliament for Lilongwe Mpenu, Makala Ngozo, added his voice to the protests by saying Parliamentarians cannot allow Chaponda to continue as a minister when his corruption scandal is well known.

It is at this point that lawmakers on the MCP side started jeering, to the extent of suppressing Chaponda’s response, forcing Mcheka Chilenje to thrice bang her table for order while pleading with the legislators to allow him to respond for “the sake of peace and harmony”.

Chaponda then stood for the second time but his attempt was again frustrated with another wave of booing which compelled Mussa to ask Chilenje to expel some booing lawmakers using standing order 105.

“What we are experiencing is disorder and standing order 105 is clear,” Mussa said.

Mcheka Chilenje, however, said she was aware of the standing order and Mussa’s concerns but she could not evoke such an order to the whole side of Parliament.

Mussa then said the house should continue with other questions and questions to the Ministry of Agriculture would be tackled later.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chitipa Central MP, Clement Mukumbwa, asked if Parliament will be ruled by the wish of the opposition arguing people of Mzuzu City needed answers to their question and people of Chitipa Central had a supplementary question on the same.

But Mcheka Chilenje said as much as she appreciated Mukumbwa’s concerns he needed to appreciate the situation “we are in”.

When Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Patricia Kaliati, and Nkhotakota North East Member of Parliament, Martha Lunji, continued to raise concerns on the booing and Chaponda’s failure to respond to questions, Mcheka Chilenje ruled them out of order.

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