Speaker sends home two MPs
Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara, Thursday suspended for two days Blantyre City South East legislator, Sameer Suleman and Dowa East Member of Parliament (MP) Richard Chimwendo Banda for breaching Parliament’s Standing Orders.
Suleman’s offence was standing up while the Speaker was also standing in the House. MPs are required to be seated when the Speaker is standing. Chimwendo, on the other hand, entered the chamber late on Wednesday.
“I order MP for Blantyre City South East to leave the house in accordance with Standing Order 105. This was due to the Honourable Member defying my authority. He is suspended for two seating days from the time of suspension,” the Speaker declared.
At first, she only announced Suleman’s suspension, a thing which did not go down well with MPs on government benches who demanded that Chimwendo Banda be suspended as well. The Speaker argued that she was not chairing proceedings in the house when Chimwendo Banda committed his offence. However, Chimwendo Banda said he was ready for disciplinary measures so that the House should proceed with business.
Earlier in the day, the House suspended its deliberations as members disagreed on the suspensions of the two legislators. Deliberations were suspended at a time MPs were discussing the disposal of maize that got rotten in Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation’s (Admarc) storage.
Chimwendo Banda brought the issue into the House saying there is need for the government to fire top Admarc officials because of the rotten maize issue which he said has cost the government K1.4 billion.
In the course of deliberations, Suleman, who is chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture rose to make a point while the Speaker was also standing.
When the Speaker ordered Suleman to leave the chamber, Suleman, backed by MPs from the government benches, refused to leave arguing that Chimwendo, Banda too, should be punished for breaching Standing Orders.
After both Chimwendo Banda and Suleman were sent out, Suleman said the Speaker should exercise impartiality when dealing with the lawmakers.
“Honourable Chimwendo [Banda] on Wednesday stood up and swore to say he cannot leave [the House] and he did not, so precedence was set. Unless this thing is tackled, there is going to be chaos in the house,” he said.
On his part Chimwendo Banda said the Democratic Progressive Party legislators just wanted to use his case as an excuse for not deliberating important issues such as that of rotten maize in Admarc’s storage.