Deliberations derailed over Transglobe lawsuit

Written by  Gladys Nthenda

Deliberations in the National Assembly were on Tuesday thrown off-track following the disclosure that Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture Chidanti Malunga has been personally sued by Transglobe Limited.

First Deputy Speaker Ester Mcheka Chilenje First Deputy Speaker Ester Mcheka Chilenje

Rising on a point of concern Rumphi East Parliamentarian Kamlepo Kalua expressed concern over the lawsuit which Transglobe had obtained from the courts to Malunga over the company’s involvement in the supply of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP).

This follows the company’s alleged dubious involvement in the maize procurement deal from Zambia hence the Committee’s questioning its involvement in the 2017-2018 FISP programme.

Kalua sought direction from First Deputy Speaker Ester Mcheka Chilenje on how the House should continue following revelations that Malunga has been personally served with court summons whilst carrying out his parliamentary and oversight duties.

The sentiments were shared by most opposition lawmakers who felt this was a threat to them as the Parliamentary Chair obtained the lawsuit against Transglobe not in his personal capacity but as a member of parliament on a matter of public interest.

This led to a heated debate with accusations and counter-accusations which prompted Mcheka-Chilenje to temporarily suspend proceedings and summoned the Business Committee to further discuss the matter.

The House was suspended for over 2 hours and when it resumed sitting First Deputy Speaker announced that Parliament Secretariat is handling the matter which is coming before the courts on Friday, 17th November.

Mcheka-Chilenje disclosed that the Business Committee had resolved that deliberations should continue and members would be informed on the court proceedings.

This was corroborated by Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa, Leader of the Opposition Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and a Representative of the People’s Party Ralph Jooma that this is what transpired during the meeting.

However the explanation did not seem to convince most members and they kept rising on points of order as they felt this would still affect their level of involvement without risking contempt of court.

First Deputy Speaker cautioned and reminded the House that matters under adjudication in any court shall not be referred to or they risked being in contempt.

In his contribution Nkhata Bay North Parliamentarian Mganda Chiume stated that what is at stake is the limited explanation from the Chair and asked her to explain exactly what transpired during the Business Committee meeting for members to have clarity on the matter.

In her response Chilenje maintained that she has done her part and would not be pushed into going into details of what was discussed arguing that it is for the various parties’ leadership to enlighten their members.

Chakwera reminded legislators on the need to realize that the court has powers over certain processes adding that this is in line with separation of powers and the National Assembly needed to respect this fact.

Mcheka Chilenje urged members to wait for the Friday ruling as the National Assembly will be briefed on the court proceedings.

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