New Malawi MPs sworn in

By Moses Michael-Phiri, Monday, June 09, 2014

LILONGWE – Newly-elected Malawian parliamentarians were sworn in on Monday by Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa at the new parliament building in capital Lilongwe.

With President Peter Mutharika's constituency becoming vacant after he took the oath of office last Saturday, and with elections still to be held in the Blantyre North Constituency, only 191 MPs were sworn in.

Among the newcomers is the son of former president Roy Kachale Banda; former first lady Patricia Shanil Dzimbiri; comedian Bon Kalindo, popularly known as "Winiko"; and business mogul David Bisnowaty.

The new parliament also features a married couple: Patricia and Angie Dishon Kaliati.

The new MPs will serve five-year terms.

Five lawmakers have already confirmed plans to vie for the post of parliament speaker when the house convenes for its first meeting next week.

There are 52 independent MPs in Malawi's 193-member National Assembly.

President Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has 49 seats; the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) 48; the People's Party (PP) of former president Joyce Banda 26; the United Democratic Front (UDF) 14; and one each for the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and Chipani Cha Pfuko (CCP).

The MPs' first day was not without drama as grudges – the result of the hotly-contested just-ended polls – ended in ugliness, with MCP supporters who were denied entry into the parliament building for wearing casual clothing insulted lawmakers from the ruling DPP.

The four leading political parties — the DPP, the MCP, the PP and the UDF — also confirmed separately that they were in talks to identify candidates and garner support for them.

Since assuming top office, President Mutharika has yet to draw up a full government.

So far, he has only appointed Goodall Gondwe, an internationally acclaimed economist, to head up a hybrid Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.

Gondwe had headed up the same ministry before late former president Bingu wa Mutharika died in office in April 2012.

He is accredited with the economic success achieved during the previous DPP administration's first term.

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