Speaker shields Peter Mutharika on inflammatory language
Speaker of National Assembly, Richard Msowoya, Friday cautioned Members of Parliament (MP) against uttering words that may reflect negatively on President Peter Mutharika.
His determination followed a complaint Government Chief Whip, Henry Mussa, made on Monday on words Leader of Opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, used in his response to a statement Mutharika delivered in the House during the opening of the 47th Session of Parliament.
Mussa said some words used were disrespectful and contravened Standing Order 97.
In his ruling, Msowoya said he took his time simply because he had to establish if the words were really used.
“It was important to establish if the words used were disrespectful to the President or were uttered to influence the Assembly in its deliberations. The question in this case is not that the Leader of the Opposition should not have referred to the President in his speech, after all his speech was being made in response to the President’s address as required by the same rules of the House,” Msowoya said.
One of the statements Mussa cited was that Chakwera said “that we Malawians are in the unenviable position of having a President and an Executive so incompetent at leading and so insensitive to the suffering of the people they govern…”
Msowoya further said MP for Blantyre Malabada Aaron Sangala added that Chakwera said ‘if the President is not a thief should be included to the list’.
But in the ruling Msowoya said criticising the President is not in itself disrespectful.
“Remarks only become disrespectful when they contained words that reflect on the President’s personally or impute an improper motive on the President. I would like to believe that the statement to say Malawians are not in a position of having incompetent and insensitive does come close to reflecting on the President,” he said
Msowoya’s ruling, however,brought tension in the House especially from the opposition benches who wanted to respond on the matter. But Msowoya said the standing orders prohibits members from commenting on his ruling.
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