On Monday when the National Assembly reconvened, members passed a motion authorising the adoption of some changes in line with the prevailing Coronavirus situation in the country.
Some of the changes are new sitting times for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as Parliament will meet for three hours starting at 930 am while on Tuesdays and Thursdays, members will be meeting for four hours daily; two hours in the morning and the remaining two in the afternoon.
The 49th session of parliament which will review the country’s financial blueprint, will run for five weeks; and for the first time, it will be convened in a hybrid virtual platform.
Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara said this follows a business committee meeting which convened virtually on February 2 and 17th 2021 to plan for the meeting.
The Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu is expected to present his 2020-2021 mid-year budget review statement on Friday 26th February
Questions to the President will be taken on 10th March 2021, subject to confirmation after consultation between the Speaker’s and President’s office.
The meeting agreed some members will physically be in the chamber while others will be attending parliament virtually from other places within Lilongwe.
Gotani-Hara noted that although some of them will be participating virtually, it is a must to adhere to standing orders pertaining to the dress code, order and decorum of the national assembly.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament will have to modify some of the standing orders in order to enable the house transact business on a hybrid virtually platform. In this regard, it was therefore agreed that all members must be in Lilongwe
“Members should know that my office will be closely monitoring member’s attendance and any deviation from this requirement my office will not hesitate to invoke standing orders
“The Chair will not hesitate to impose sanctions against any member who does not abide by the rules of the house in line with the relevant standing orders,” she warned.
She requested party whips to ensure that members are within Lilongwe and attend the sessions.
The Speaker reminded them to continue observing preventive guidelines in order to avoid contracting and spreading the Coronavirus
Since the last meeting of Parliament in September to October 2020, the house has lost four members and two Cabinet ministers among them Sidik Mia, Lingson Belekanyama John Chikalimba, Jacqueline Chikuta and James Bond Kamwambi.
Nsanje central, Nsanje north and Chikwawa east have been declared vacant following the nullification of 2019 parliamentary results by the High court of Malawi on 4th February 2021.
All the seventeen bills which the house passed in the previous meeting were assented to by President Lazarus Chakwera