Opinion: Five years down the line, has Catherine Hara met people’s expectations?

Opinion: Five years down the line, has Catherine Hara met people’s expectations?
Opinion: Five years down the line, has Catherine Hara met people’s expectations?

Africa-Press – Malawi. When Mrs. Catherine Gotani Hara was elected in 2019 as the first female speaker of Malawi’s National Assembly, there sparked ululations and high expectations among many Malawians.

Five years down the line, has Catherine met people’s expectations? For starters, Gotani Hara’s appointment marked a great stride towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.

During Catherine’s tenure of office, Malawians were satisfied with the bold step the National Assembly took to reject the amendment of Malawi Constitution just to accommodate the 50%+1 case law.

You may recall that by this time, the 50%+1 had already been rejected by the parliament. However, the Constitutional Court found it necessary to push it back to the National Assembly through a case law. This was in sharp contradiction with Sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Malawi Constitution that grant each arm of Government separation of powers.

Furthermore, Malawians saw the National Assembly asserting itself by enacting a law so that parliamentary and local government elections should be determined by the first past the post, overriding 50%+1 constitutional court interpretation of the word ‘majority’.

However, Gotani Hara’s leadership in the National Assembly is replete with parliamentary controversies and anomalies. First, Gotani Hara has failed to appreciate that the position of the speaker requires one to discharge duties without any bias, partiality or being partisan.

At the outset, Catherine was very quick to handpick Kondwani Nankhumwa as the leader of opposition without the blessings of the main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, DPP.

Without any iota of shame, Catherine single-handedly created a temporary position of deputy leader of opposition in parliament. Obviously, Gotani Hara’s actions were in contradiction with parliamentary standing orders 35.

Are we then mesmerised that the Judiciary granted a court injunction to Kondwani Nankhumwa restraining DPP from removing him from that position and yet Kondwani was not duly elected?

Logic rules that it is the Speaker of the National Assembly herself who had started to defy her own parliamentary standing orders 35. The judiciary was just an accomplice in violating the parliamentary orders.

It is not therefore mindboggling that productive deliberations in parliament are now history. This is why many Malawians were surprised to note that the whole 2023/2024 national budget, under a compromised leader of opposition Nankhumwa, was passed within 120 minutes without any detailed scrutiny.

It is only under the tutelage of Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara that the tenure of office for Members of Parliament (MPs) was unconstitutionally enacted to 6 years instead of 5 years.

This substantiates that Catherine’s leadership has produced law makers who can make laws that contradict the Supreme Malawi Constitution. In fact, Section 5 of the Malawi Constitution provides that any law that contradicts the Malawi Constitution is rendered invalid.

This simply implies that the Constitutional mandate of the current crop of MPs ends this year. The added year of 2025 for our MPs is unconstitutional and is therefore invalid.

In conclusion, we implore our beloved Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara to desist from partisan politics in the National Assembly. Furthermore, we request Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Gotani Hara, to enact laws that are in tandem with the Malawi Constitution.

Lastly but not least, it is the duty of the Speaker of the National Assembly, as the Head of one arm of Government, to ensure that the Constitutional separation of powers is highly respected. She should not be paranoid of the Judiciary and the Executive arms of Government.

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