Hon Catherine Gotani Hara, a lawmaker with the main opposition Malawi Congress Party, MCP, has been elected speaker of the country’s parliament becoming the first woman speaker.
Multiple local media portals have reported that she won a closely contested poll on Wednesday beating former first deputy speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje.
The ruling Democratic People’s Party, DPP, nominated Mcheka Chilenje, who is currently serving as Member of Parliament, MP, for the Nsanje North constituency.
190 MPs participated in the process to elect the next speaker and two deputies. As in other countries, the speaker must him / herself be a member of the house to take the post.
Speaker Gotani Hari replaces Karonga Nyungwe Richard Msowoya who also belonged to the main opposition Malawi Congress Party, MCP, where he was at the time its vice president.
The defeated Chilenje Nkhoma, back in 2014 was elected unopposed as first deputy speaker, a seat she held between 2004 and 2009. Political watchers projected a victory for her due to her history of legislative experience.
She will join a growing league of women leading legislatures across Africa. Amongst others, South Africa, The Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are examples.