A Fiscal Police probe of Mulanje Bale legislator Victor Musowa yesterday overshadowed debate on the Mid-Year Budget Review Statement with Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa alleging it is a ploy to silence dissenting views.
But Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda dismissed Nankhumwa’s assertions that Musowa, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator, was being targeted.
He said it was wrong to single out Musowa when five other constituencies, namely Dowa West, Dowa Central, Dowa North East, Mulanje Pasani and Mulanje West were also subject of the same Fiscal Police probe relating to the use of Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
Chimwendo Banda, who is also Minister of Homeland Security and Dowa East member of Parliament (MP), told Parliament that the issue of immunity, freedom of speech and privileges of legislators should be understood in the right context, saying they apply to individual MPs, but not on matters to do with public resources for constituency development projects.
He said: “The investigations are happening in six constituencies which I have mentioned. What baffles us is that the same investigations also happened in Mzimba West, but the member of Parliament did not complain.
“There are three constituencies in Dowa that are being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau over CDF and their MPs are from the ruling party.”
Rising on a point of concern in Parliament, Nankhumwa said it was a matter of concern that Musowa was being probed by Fiscal Police for alleged abuse of CDF.
He said the opposition suspected that Musowa was being probed following his declaration in Parliament on Monday that he will stage a lone demonstration at Parliament Building to push government to resolve the teachers’ strike over demands for Covid-19 risk allowance.
Parliamentary Standing Orders provide that when Parliament is meeting, MPs should enjoy immunity from criminal proceedings to allow thorough representation of their constituents.
But Chimwendo Banda said the cited Standing Orders do not allow reported speech and hearsay in Parliament. He said the affected MP is required to personally raise the issue of concern in the chamber.
He advised Nankhumwa to officially write the office of the Speaker about the concerns for proper redress.
Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Aisha Adam ruled that the Leader of Opposition should advise the concerned MP to write the Speaker’s office on the matter.
The direction prompted discontent from Nankhumwa and a majority of DPP legislators who walked out of Parliament to have an impromptu meeting.
In an interview after the closed door caucus, Nankhumwa accused government of allegedly working to silence dissenting views from Musowa.
In an interview yesterday, Musowa confirmed he was being probed, saying he was called by Mulanje District Council officials who requested CDF files for Mulanje Bale Constituency for the past three financial years.
He said he will write the Speaker’s office as well as President Lazarus Chakwera on the issue.