Parliamentary political caucuses can improve oversight role of parliament — study reveals


A research by the Institute for Policy Research and Social Empowerment (IPRSE) has found that formalising parliamentary political party caucuses can improve the oversight role of parliament.

This was disclosed in Lilongwe by the IPRSE director and lead researcher Henry Chingaipe during a validation workshop on the political party caucus study report organised by the Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) under the five-year USAID- funded parliamentary support program.

Speaking after the meeting, IPRSE director and lead researcher Henry Chingaipe said party caucuses operate informally therefore they do lack a string basis to adequately influence Parliament’s oversight impact.

” What we have found is that political party caucuses shape for good or worse the functioning of parliament in terms of registration and also of oversight and what we have done in this report is to highlight how political parties affect the performance of these functions for good or for worse,” said Chingaipe.

According to Chingaipe political party caucuses in parliament need to be recognised and formalised because at the moment party focuses are like informal structures of the house but they significantly shape and affect the formal business of the house.

“So there is probably some need of recognition we make the point in the report that there are sufficiently implied by the Constitution under section 65 sub section 2 but they are also sufficiently implied in a number of provisions in the standing orders through whips and other offices but they are not recognised in those instruments.

“So maybe recognition will be the first recommendation because once that is done then it will open up many other things that need to be done,” explained Chingaipe.

In his remarks, Public Resources Management Expert for Democracy Works Foundation Dalitso Kubalasa said with the program they are implementing Democracy Works Foundation is supporting Parliament effectiveness, parliament independence and looking at all the functions and oversight of parliament.

Kubalasa added that political parties are usually the ones that sponsor members of parliament and they have a lot of influence in what happens in the business house and formalising the political caucuses will definitely improve the oversight role of parliament.

Speaking on behalf of political parties, Secretary General for UTM Patricia Kaliati said as political parties they are supposed to learn from the research, the laws of parliamentary caucus as well as the oversight, where they are supposed to meet and where they are supposed to be implementing those programs for the benefit of the members of parliament as well as the benefit of political parties.

“It was very important meeting and also we have learnt a lot from the research and we are going to implement that for the benefit of political parties,” explained Kaliati.

The research was sanctioned by the Democracy Works Foundation (DWF), focusing on the oversight and legislative roles of Parliament under the background of public disapproval of the performance of members of Parliament.

It also found that public disapproval of the performance of parliamentarians has been consistently high from 63.8 % in 2014 then 68.2% in 2017 to 51.1% in 2019 and finally 60.8% in 2022.