Malawi: Parliament Rejects Mutharika's Imposition of Kasaila As Opposition Leader - DPP Legislators to Elect Their Choice

30 September 2020

First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Madalitso Kazombo has dismissed a communication from the former president Peter Mutharika, which suggested to depose Kondwani Nankhumwa as leader of opposition, to replace him with Francis Kasaila.

The decision came following a protest from Mulanje West MP Yusuf Nthenda who claimed that the Leader of Opposition is not appointed but elected by opposition Members of Parliament.

Nthenda asked the House to apply its Standing Orders in coming with leader of opposition and not allow the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) embtalled president Peter Mutharika, who is not a legislator, to dictate business of the House.

The Deputy Speaker has therefore deffered the Communication from Mutharika and that the leader of the opposition remains Nankhumwa, unless the DPP MPs decide otherwise.

He has since asked the DPP legislators to go back to their drawing table and come up with a name.

Governance expert Makhumbo Munthalu is on record telling Nyasa Times that it is important that MPs should have a leader in Parliament whom they have trust, respect and confidence in.

" Any attempt to impose leaders should be discouraged and condemned in strongest terms," he said.

Prior to the 2009 general elections, the practice in the Malawi National Assembly was to be guided by the definition of who a leader of opposition is as espoused in the standing orders: "... the parliamentary leader of the largest party, elected by the parliamentary membership, which is not in government or in coalition with a government party, and who is recognized by the speaker as such".

An attempt was made in June 2009 to change the procedure in which a Leader of Opposition should have been identified in the House. But the attempt failed as it culminated in the illegal election of Abel Kayembe as leader of opposition.

It was the first of its kind with no precedents elsewhere in the parliamentary world. No wonder the court reversed that decision and John Tembo of Malawi Congress Party reveretd to the position of leader of oppostion.

Traditionally, the Leader of Opposition is identified immediately after a general election. The reason for this is that it is Malawians who decide which party becomes the ruling party by voting its leader as President of this country in a general election. The party candidate who comes second and with the largest number of MPs becomes the leader of opposition.

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