The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has added its voice in condemning the continued absenteeism of Members of Parliament (MPs) from the National Assembly saying it is denying the citizenry from their fundamental right to development among others.
Despite recent warning by the Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya that the Business Committee which comprises the leadership of political parties on both side of the house resolved to forfeit allowances from absconders, the trend seems to be continuing.
Speaker Msowoya pointed out that absenteeism was denting the image of Parliament in the eyes of the public and having a negative effect on businesses on the floor of the august house.
“In view of this observation, the Committee of Chairs supported by the leaders of political parties represented in the Business Committee, resolved that with immediate effect, the office should recover the allowances from members who do not attend the plenary and committee meetings without leave of absence or without valid reasons as required by Standing Order 41,” said the Speaker
It is against this background that CCJP Acting National Coordinator, Martin Chiphwanya said Members of Parliament are supposed to represent constituents who voted them to that position hence should actively participate and take part in business of national assembly.
“Members of Parliament become leaders because people vote for them to do the job in parliament. By choosing to stay away from parliament without any valid reason, MPs betray the people who gave them the mandate to represent them in parliament, “said Chiphwanya.
He said It is only right and proper that people should take these truant MPs to task saying “Being a Member of Parliament is a serious job and requires highest levels of work ethic” and as such those MPs staying away from .the house are a disservice to the nation.
“They are a disconnect between constituents and the country at large. Citizens should strongly protest against these MPs and demand explanations from them. Most importantly, constituents should be bold enough not to vote these MPs back into power because they have deliberately chosen to abandoned their mandate,” Chiphwanya said.
Members of Parliament (MPs) get K40 000 per day as subsistence allowance and K10 000 sitting allowance which is paid out before the meeting starts.
Standing Orders 41 (3) states: “A member who is absent without seeking leave of absence shall forfeit all allowances during the period of absence.”
The Speaker can grant leave of absence, according to Standing Orders 206 (3), on the two grounds of illness or family emergency to enable an MP attend to public business locally or abroad.
The seat of an MP can only be vacated if the member is absent without leave from the Speaker for three successive meetings of the assembly, according to Standing Order 206 (4).