Business came to a halt in Parliament in Lilongwe earlier today when Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his vice Gift Trapence visited the house ahead of a vigil scheduled for tomorrow.
The government side was not amused with their presence. This prompted Minister of Labour, Skills and Innovation Martha Lunji Mhone Chanjo to move a motion for adjournment citing security concerns.
Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara suspended the proceedings for business discussion over the presence of the two leaders.
The vigils scheduled for tomorrow at Parliament are aimed at forcing Members of Parliament to enact electoral reform laws as recently recommended by the Constitutional Court in its historic presidential election ruling.
Speaking in the house, Minister of Homeland Security Nicolas Dausi said they do not want vigils in and around parliament premisses as it will make MPs uncomfortable.
He said the country’s security agencies will not be able to provide security to individual MPs.
“Having conferred and referred the matters to the state security agencies, they have told me to relay the message that they will not be able to ensure safety and security to any of the 193 Members of Parliament as they travel to and from Parliament,” said Dausi.
Dausi added that despite HRDC’s promise to hold peaceful demonstrations in the past, there have been incidents of violence and vandalism.
This, said Dausi, could put the lives of MPs at risk if the vigil will be held.
“We have witnessed the killing of a Police officer, burning of Buildings and houses, beating people and hating in the midst of the so-called peaceful demonstrations. We would not want such things to happen to our Members of Parliament,” he added.
However, HRDC Vice Chairperson Gift Trapence has said it is unfortunate that the house became chaotic when they arrived.
“We came in peace as citizens to monitor the proceedings. It is very disappointing to see the Members of Parliament on the side of Government reacted in such a way. They should understand that this is a democracy and Malawians can come to follow the debate in Parliament,” said Trapence.
He insisted they will still hold the vigils because it is their right to demonstrate.
Trapence further said the fact that the MPS were shaken when HRDC arrived shows that HRDC’s work is making impact and Malawians including MPs are able to notify their work of fighting for the truth.
The HRDC has led mass demonstrations since the controversial May 21 elections last year demanding the resignation of MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah and Commissioners for presiding over what they described as a rigged election. The Constitutional Court recently vindicated them, nullifying the vote, ordering fresh elections and review of electoral laws.