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Parliament wastes time in ‘owes’, ‘owns’ confusion

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Parliament business stopped for 27 minutes on Wednesday when Deputy Speaker, Esther Mcheka- Chilenje, ordered a replay of a section in Tuesday’s proceedings to deal with a disagreement between the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, and Mzimba West legislator, Harry Mkandawire, over the use of ‘owns’ and ‘owes’.

Msaka had accused Mkandawire of saying Raiply ‘owns’ government of Malawi but Mkandawire insisted he said Raiply ‘owes’ the government of Malawi millions of kwacha in loyalty as part of his contribution to the Forestry (Amendment) Bill which the House passed on Tuesday.

Msaka requested the office of the Speaker to go back to the record to hear what Mkandawire had really said.

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At 4:34 pm, Mcheka-Chilenje stopped Members of Parliament from commenting on a ministerial statement on the State of Irrigation and Water Situation in the country and told the staff at Parliament to replay part of Tuesday’s proceedings.

After the House had attentively listened to the tape, Mcheka-Chilenje asked Msaka to establish his case.

“Honourable House, according to the tape which has been played, we will need to establish a case of a query from the Honourable Minister. I stand to be corrected by the honour if I didn’t get him right. I think the Honourable Minister does not agree to the allegation made by the Honourable Member that Raiply owes Malawi government millions of kwacha.

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“Now, from the tape that we have listened to, what can the Honourable Member say or before that, let me ask Honourable Minister to establish the case as to what you wanted to say on this issue,” Mcheka-Chilenje said.

However, Msaka said it appeared to him that Mcheka-Chilenje wanted to turn the House into a court and he did not think that was to be the intention.

“It seems also that you did somehow miss the bone of contention. The bone of contention was that he had used the word, Raiply ‘owns’, ownership of the government and I was correcting that small point but I went on to deal with substantive issue of owing. And we have all listened to the tape, he did use the word ‘owns’ Malawi government erroneously and I think he should have been gentleman enough to accept that and we move on,” Msaka said.

Mkandawire said the matter was simple which shutters one’s illusion and insisted he said Raiply owes not owns government.

In the end, Mcheka- Chilenje said the Members of Parliament should be serious if the people who are being represented in the House are to trust them.

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