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Tempers in House over Apam march

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By Audrey Kapalamula:

Tempers flared Wednesday afternoon in Parliament over the conduct of Malawi Police Service (MPS) officers in blocking people with albinism from marching to the State House in Lilongwe.

The police blocked the group along the Presidential Drive opposite Bingu International Conference Centre, a development that frustrated Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Chief Whip, Jacob Hara, who took to task Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi.

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“Section 38 [of] the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi gives people the right to assemble and demonstrate. Is it in order for Minister of Homeland Security, who swore to protect people, to use Malawi Police Service to block people with albinism and stop them from marching and holding a vigil at State House?” He said

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Esther Mcheka- Chilenje, took time to provide guidance to the House on the matter as she repeatedly said the matter was sensitive.

She cited Standing Order 211 which allows the House to have a motion on the floor to suspend all relevant standing orders and business on the Order Paper if they needed to discuss the matter.

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Chilenje also shot down Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa’s proposal to have the matter discussed thoroughy later as communicated earlier by Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, before he could request Dausi to speak on the issue to avoid debate.

Dausi asked for more time to enquire from the police on the matter.

“As everybody knows in this House, this is a very sensitive issue. I am here hearing it for the first time and I hope you will want to have a comprehensive response. Could I be given time to find out what is happening?” he said.

But Hara was not convinced and accused the government of not being in control of the country.

“How can a minister insinuate that he has no idea about the issue when the police that are handling the sensitive matter are serving under his ministry,” he said.

The remarks irked Government Chief Whip, Henry Mussa, who rose and ruled Hara out of order.

“I appreciate that he is new on that position but this is not the way we proceed,” he said.

His comment also attracted booing and jeering from the opposition bench, a development that irked Mussa who repeatedly threatened to deal with Dowa-East Member of Parliament Richard Chimwendo-Banda.

Debate refused to die down as MCP members of Parliament (MP) also questioned Mussa’s conduct and remarks, demanding to know what he wanted to do with Chimwendo-Banda.

The Dowa East MP also pressed Mussa on the matter before Chilenje adjourned the House to a health break.

Mussa eventually withdrew his remarks and apologised to the lawmaker.

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