Malawi: Parliament to Summon Faizal Aboo, Pacific Group Over Reaction to MP Suleman Statement

22 October 2020

Parliament has resolved to form an ad-hoc Privileges Committee to summon the management of Pacific Group of Faizal Aboo to explain the statement the private company issued on Blantyre City South East member of Parliament (MP) Sameer Suleman who commented about race, land ownership and economic opportunity.

MPs from both the government and the opposition benches supported the motion to summon the Pacific Group over their statement on Suleman who claimed that two people own about 80 percent of Limbe, that attracted the reaction through a press statement from Aboo.

During the parliamentary deliberations on Tuesday, Ishmael Ndaila Onani, MP of Dedza South (Malawi Congress Party) presented a motion using Parliamentary Standing Orders, saying Pacific Group violated the Parliamentary Privileges legal instrument that protects MPs from outside interference on matters discussed in Parliament.

He said: "Our privileges are being undermined by Pacific Group. Our colleague is living in fear, he cannot visit his constituents freely because he feels threatened.

"An injury to one of us, is an injury to all of us. Regardless of the different political parties we belong to, we are all MPs. We need to be fair and just; we need to be protected Honourable Speaker."

Musowa concurred with Onani, saying threatening people for speaking out on ills happening in our societies should not be condoned, adding Parliament represents the poor people's voice who cannot confront the rich.

The resolution to summon Pacific Group was then passed with a resounding 'yes' vote.

This follows a motion moved by Mulanje Bale MP Victor Musowa (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) last week in Parliament on racial discrimination allegedly propagated by foreign nationals against Malawians in work and entertainment places.

In his contribution to Musowa's motion, Suleman, without mentioning names, said besides racial abuse, some foreign nationals are grabbing prime land in cities and towns at the expense of Malawians.

He claimed that 80 percent of the whole of Limbe central business district in Blantyre is currently owned by two individuals and that of the two, one of them owns over 50 hectares where he is doing fish farming.

Suleman, a DPP MP, further claimed to have a petition from the people of Chiwembe Housing where the unidentified business individual "displayed such arrogance as to build a fence right on the main road".

The MP further claimed that the individual is about to be given 48 hectares by Blantyre City Council and Ministry of Lands in the area known as Chigumula Forest.

But Pacific Group issued a statement to react to Parliament discussion although Suleman refrained from directly naming the concerned party. The company said it was convinced the legislator was referring to Pacific Group given that it is the only entity that operates a fish farm in Limbe, known as Chambo Fisheries.

Pacific Group demanded that Suleman should withdraw his remarks in Parliament where he made the accusations, stating that the remarks were damaging the company's reputation and may cause people to rise against it.

A newspaper columnist Ephraim Munthali pointed out that Parliament can introduce the public's right to reply.

He wrote: " I suggest that those who feel injured by the statements of legislators should be allowed to write the Speaker and directly respond to accusations against them."

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara, who presided over the meeting, is scheduled to announce the ad-hoc committee any day from now.

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