AFIDEP congratulates Parliament for passing legislations to enhance the independence of the August House
1 août 2021

The African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) would like to congratulate the Parliament of Malawi for passing Constitutional and Parliamentary Service amendment bills that will enhance Parliament’s independence in discharging its core functions of Oversight, Legislation, and Representation, if the President assent the bills.

The bills were sponsored in Parliament by the Tonse Government, and they were championed by the Parliamentary Service Commission and the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament after extensive benchmarking over the past three years on how her parliaments in Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa have achieved similar legal, administrative and financial autonomy.

The key effect of these reforms will include: 1) the Parliamentary Service is now entrenched in the Constitution in the same way that the Civil Service and Judiciary Service are created; 2) the Parliamentary Services Commission will be a constitutional Body Corporate responsible for managing the affairs of the Parliamentary Service, and its membership will be expanded by including two external experts who are not parliamentarians; 3) Parliament will be able to set its own calendar; 4) the oversight function of parliament is now defined the Constitution, which will provide for a third sitting of parliament to focus on examining committee oversight reports and general legislations; 5) the approved budget of parliament will now be protected expenditure, which could give parliament immense autonomy to manage its financial resources; the salaries of the speaker and deputy speakers will be protected in the same way that the salaries of the President and Vice president and of the Chief Justice and Judiciary officers are protected.

When commending parliamentarians for passing the landmark bills during the closing session of the last seating of parliament last Friday, the Speaker of Parliament, Honorable Catherine Gotani Hara and the Leader of the House and Minister of Homeland Security Hon Richard Chimwendo Banda, applauded The Royal Norwegian Embassy for providing financial support to Parliament through Technical Assistance from AFIDEP that facilitated the parliamentary autonomy over the past three years.

“These constitutional reforms are a major breakthrough in efforts to improve Malawi’s democratic governance and if assented by the President they will go a long way in positioning parliament as a strong third arm of Government able to steer accountability and socioeconomic development,” said Dr Eliya Zulu, The Executive Director, AFIDEP.

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