Parliament adjourns over ‘security threats’


Parliament Tuesday adjourned prematurely over the arrest of two of its members, Jessie Kabwila, who is Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Publicity Secretary and the party’s Director of Legal Affairs Lewis Chakhwantha.

Chakhwantha, who is Member of Parliament (MP) for Lilongwe South West, handed himself to police at the security institution’s Area 30 headquarters after learning that the police were after him while Kabwila, who was arrested on Monday, spent a night in custody before being released yesterday.

After the House had resumed for the afternoon sitting, MCP spokesperson, Alekeni Menyani, argued that the arrest of the two MPs while Parliament was still in session was a breach of their privileges.


But the government side argued that the treason case, which Kabwila had been charged with, was an exemption such that an MP could be arrested even when Parliament is in session.

After some arguments on the matter, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Esther Mcheka- Chilenje, suspended the deliberations for an hour only for Speaker of the House Richard Msowoya to return and adjourn proceedings.

Msowoya said it was unfortunate that MPs were being arrested when Parliament was in session when he was supposed to protect them.


“I do feel as your Speaker personally insecure and I also feel you should be concerned as well and until government guarantees the security of Honourable Members, I adjourn the House to tomorrow at 2 O’clock in the afternoon,” said Msowoya at around 4.05pm.

But in an interview after the adjournment, Leader of the House Francis Kasaila argued that government would not provide the security assurance that Msowoya had asked for because there was nothing wrong in police arresting Chakhwantha and Kabwila.

Said Kasaila: “As far as we are concerned, the law is very clear; the Constitution is very clear that someone who was engaging in treasonous acts can be arrested even from the chamber.

“Here we had 192 members. One member was not here because of his own act. Now, which security are we talking about here? Security of a person who is planning to kill someone?”

By implication, if government fails to provide the purported security assurance, Msowoya might again adjourn the House when it meets at 2 pm tomorrow.

When asked why the police had granted bail to Kabwila who is a treason suspect when the laws stipulate that only a High Court can do that, Kasaila said she should be grateful that the police had done a good act.

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