Malawi's parliament speaker Rodwell Munyenyembe has died five days after collapsing during a parliamentary debate on the impeachment of President Bingu wa Mutharika, Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba said Tuesday.
Munyenyembe, 69, died at 11:00 p.m. (2100 GMT) Monday at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he had been receiving medication since Friday.
The speaker collapsed Thursday morning in the parliament during a heated debate on a motion moved by lawmaker Lucius Banda to amend standing order to put in place procedures for impeaching a state president.
He was lifted to Johannesburg Friday as his conditions deteriorated.
Health Minister Ntaba said Munyenyembe died from massive bleeding in the brain because of the vessel rapture.
Munyenyembe's death could send Malawi into further chaos amid efforts by the dominant United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Malawi Congress Party to impeach the president and amounting pressure for the parliament to adopt the budget before the current financial year ends Thursday.
Malawi has been in a political crisis for months, thanks to tension between Mutharika and his predecessor Bikili Muluzi.
Handpicked by Muluzi to succeed him, Mutharika won the May 2004 presidential election on the UDF platform.
Mutharika's anti-corruption drive, however, has sowed relations between him and Muluzi, climaxing in January this year when Mutharika openly accused Muluzi of being behind of an alleged assassination attempt against him.
Mutharika later dumped the UDF and formed his own Democratic Progressive Party.
The UDF has accused Mutharika of abusing public fund and interfering in the matters of other political parties and gone ahead with their impeachment efforts.
A more serious aftermath of the speaker's untimely death perhaps is that it may threaten Malawi's efforts to secure more aid from donors.
Michael Keating, the United Nations resident coordinator in Malawi, warned in Lilongwe Monday that failure to adopt the budget "will make it much harder for bilateral and multilateral donors to maintain or increase levels of budgetary support."
Keating said the board of the International Monetary Fund is scheduled to meet to discuss Malawi's request for Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility arrangement on July 18, but if the budget is not passed by early July the meeting will not take place.
The parliament has been put on adjournment since the speaker's collapse last Thursday.
Jones Chingola, second deputy speaker of the parliament who is supposed to chair the business committee in the absence of the speaker, said no plans have yet been laid down for the parliament to reconvene.
Government spokesperson Ken Lipenga urged opposition lawmakers to behave with responsibility but said he does not know if the parliament could reconvene.