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Pandemonium breaks out in parliament as MPs trade insults

Pandemonium broke out in the House on Wednesday when MPs started trading insults over dressing following a scathing attack on the government by an opposition legislator.

This pandemonium occurred during Nkhotakota Central MP Edwin Banda's contributions to the State of Nation address which President Joyce Banda delivered in Parliament last Friday.

In his remarks, Banda awarded a 43 percent mark to the government specifically for constant provision of fuel in the country and scored them zero percent for all other areas of governance and economic management such as provision of drugs.

It was a point of order from Deputy Minister of Health Halima Daudi, challenging his assertion that there are no drugs in hospital that riled Banda.

Banda was so riled that he said eight children at Kamuzu Central Hospital were using one bottle of oxygen meant for one.

"Shame on this government! How can this government wait nine months to say there are no drugs in hospitals? Shame on this government!" Banda said.

This sparked a shouting competition between Banda and his opposition colleagues on the one side and the government side on the other, which culminated in the Deputy Minister of Finance Ralph Jooma ridiculing Banda's dressing.

Jooma said Banda who was dressed in a shiny brown suit looked like he was returning from a wedding where he acted as a best man or page boy.

Efforts by Leader of House Henry Phoya to control the House through reminders to Second Deputy Speaker Juliana Mphande about time yielded no results.

His supposed lack of control over shouting government MPs angered opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) chief whip Joseph Njobvuyalema who accused Phoya of encouraging rude remarks from the government side.

"The Leader of House should control his deputy minister; he should control his shallow cabinet. He is encouraging them to say rude remarks which is taking us nowhere," Njobvuyalema said.

However, Phoya claimed Njobvuyalema had personal issues which he needed to express outside the House.

"The MP for Nkhotakota Central made a lot of provocative remarks, but I said nothing.

"If I am being accused of being a bad leader, then that's fine. Just know that these shallow ministers are the ones leading the nation of Malawi whether you like it or not," Phoya said.

Then opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chief Whip Henry Mussa suggested that Jooma withdraw his remarks about Banda's dressing as they were unparliamentarily, according to Standing Order rules.

At that point, Mphande, who presided over the sitting, advised Jooma to withdraw his remarks, which he did.

The MPs are expected to continue with their debate on the State of the Nation address today.

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