By Emmanuel Chirwa:
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has said it would choose Lazarus Chakwera’s replacement as Leader of Opposition in Parliament once the august House notifies the party of dates for mid-year budget review meeting.
MCP Chief Whip, Robin Lowe, Wednesday said they are yet to choose a replacement for Chakwera, who relinquished the position and that of Lilongwe North-West Member of Parliament, in line with the law which stipulates that one cannot vie for the State presidency while holding public office.
“As the main opposition party, we are obliged to elect a leader of opposition, following the resignation of the party’s president, Lazarus Chakwera. But we will elect the leader only when Parliament notifies us of the dates of the mid-term budget review, which we feel is unlikely to happen,” he said.
Lowe said, as per procedure, parliamentarians are notified of the meeting 21 days prior to the gathering. But, up to date, the legislators have not been notified and five weeks are remaining before Parliament is dissolved.
National Assembly spokesperson, Leonard Mengezi, said, much as MCP is duty-bound to replace Chakwera, the election of the Leader of Opposition is not constitutionally bound.
“It is just part of Parliament’s procedures,” he said.
Mengezi said they are waiting for the advice of the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, who communicates with President Peter Mutharika before calling for such a meeting.
After elections, a party with most members of Parliament on the opposition benches chooses a leader of opposition in Parliament.
Since 2014, Chakwera has been holding the position.
There is silence from the government side on whether the mid-year budget review meeting would take place.