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Malawi: Tonse MPs to Move to Govt Benches in Parliament - DPP to Provide Opposition Leader, MCP Ruling Party



Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members of Parliament (MPs) will on Monday relocate to the government benches in the National Assembly as the governing party following the election of its leader Rev Dr Lazarus Chakwera as State President while the erstwhile ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its bedfellow United Democratic Front (UDF) will occupy the opposition benches.

The 55 MPs from MCP will be joined in the government benches by five from People's Party (PP), four from UTM and one from Alliance for Democracy (Aford) including a some independents that cut ties with DPP are likely to switch their allegiance towards the incoming administration.

Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara confirmed the new arrangement following the shift of power.

Said Gotani Hara on the new development: "Yes, it is true that MCPMPs will sit on the government side. So, as it stands, DPP MPs will now sit on opposition benches."

The Speaker also disclosed that MCP will provide the Leader of the House post from its front bench of Cabinet ministers.

While DPP will have to appoint a leader of the opposition.

Initially, during the May 21 2019 parliamentary election, the DPP won 62 seats but after the High Court determinations that nullified three of them--Phalombe North East, Mangochi West and Mangochi North East--due to irregularities, the number of legislators dropped to 59.

During the first post-independence multiparty general elections in 1994, the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) scooped all seats in the Northern Region and some in the Central Region. However, Aford's numbers in Parliament started to dwindle after the then party leader, the late Chakufwa Chihana, entered into an alliance with the then governing UDF. Currently, Aford has only one MP in Parliament - Yeremiah Chihana.

UDF came to power in 1994 after defeating MCP in 1994. It swept seats in the Southern Region and most seats in the Central Region.

During the 1999 elections, UDF won 91 seats, but the figures continued to drop in the subsequent elections when it won 49 seats in 2004 and 16 in 2009. Now UDF has 10 MPs.

Now DPP as main opposition party will play a role in criticising government policy for example in reply to Ministerial statements and debates on legislation.

Parliament is expected to reconvene on Monday for the plenary session after a week-long cluster meeting break where the members analysed the K2 trillion budget, which Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwananvekha presented on June 12 2020.

The House was supposed to pass the budget by June 30, the end of the government fiscal year.

Malawi went to the polls on Tuesday following nullification of the May 2019 presidential election, which was marred by irregularities.