Malawi’s parliament for the first time in it’s history assumed the role of judge and jury and found outspoken legislator Anita Kalinde guilty of assaulting Home Affairs and National Defence Minister Aaron Sangala two weeks ago.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party used its majority and voted alone for the motion as the opposition walked out in protest. They voted to have her suspended for 30 days with pay and allowances.
Opposition United Democratic Front Chief Whip Clement Chiwaya questioned the integrity of Government saying that it had been undermined by the planting of evidence by Minister Sangala who tore his own shirt to aggravate Kalinde’s charges.
Kalinde hit the news headlines last week when she walked from her bench to the government side and manhandled Sangala as the House watched in shock and awe. Kalinde got angry when the Minister accused her late husband of dealing in body parts.
“When we watched the video of the fracas in the business committee the Minister had no torn shirt. I have no confidence in the Minister and the country has no confidence in the Ministry to handle an issue that bordered on planting of evidence,” charged Chiwaya, attracting wild cheers from the opposition benches.
Avoiding debate on fuel, foreign exchange which have paralyzed industry and drug shortages that have left many people dying from treatable diseases, Government side led by Leader of the House George Chaponda insisted on priotising the issue of Kalinde which saw the house voting several times.
But former vice president Cassim Chilumpha said the constitution was the supreme law of the land and sections 199, section 4 and section 12 subject any institution and political authority to the law arguing that the motion asking for the suspension of Kalinde violated all the prescribed norms.
“The motion is presupposing that she is already guilty without being heard. And out of all the pressing problems that we want to look at this is not the right time to have such a debate,” said Chilumpha
Mzimba Luwerezi Dr. Bafomo Nyirenda stunned the DPP benches when he suggested that Sangala provoked Kalinde and he too should be suspended for three days to ensure that natural justice is followed.
But in the end, Kalinde was suspended and the Minister survived.