The newly-elected Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara has promised that she will be a fair leader and has sought the support of the whole House as she embarks on her five year term as head of the legislative arm of government.
Huge milestone: Gotani Hara taking her oath as first female speaker of Malawi parliament After her election, Madam Speaker Gotani Hara in her robes enters the august House
Gotani-Hara, a legsilator for the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), was elected on Wednesday to become a first female speaker in the history of Malawi.
She amassed 97 votes against 93 of Esther Mcheka-Chilenje of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In her acceptance speech, Gotani Hara appealed for unity amongst Members of Parliament urging them to desist from bringing divisive politics into Parliament business.
"Let me express my heartfelt appreciation for the confidence and trust that you have placed in me. I intend to be fair to all, I therefore seek your support in advance.
"This is a unique opportunity we have been given to serve our nation. Let us resist the partisanship that has taken root in our political landscape," she said after being sworn in.
Eisenhower Mkaka, MCP lawmaker and party spokesperson, told a local private broadcasting station Zodiak after announcement of the voting results that the party was " overjoyed" for providing the Speaker and the first woman to hold the post.
"We have shown the nation that we mean business when we talk about unifying the country," said Mkaka.
"We have confidence in Gotani Hara that she will deliver," he added.
Mkaka continued: "The victory of Hara as first-ever female speaker of parliament is what every Malawian hoped for. Her election should encourage women that if you invest in girls, they can also become leaders".
Viwemi Chavula, team leader of the 50-50 campaign, a consortium of civil rights group which campaigns for 50% representation of women in public offices, has described the election of Hara as "a huge achievement for Malawi".
Chavula said their aim was to increase women's representation in leadership and decision making positions.
Hara served on several ministerial positions including that of health and gender under Malawi's first women president Joyce Banda.
The 193-seat parliament was dissolved in March this year ahead of fresh elections on May 21.
There is hope that Gotani will ensure the legislative power be with committees and rank-and-file members.