DPP-UDF in ‘tribal pact’ argues Malawi law expert

United Democratic Front (UDF) members of Parliament (MPs) who have relocated to government benches have violated Section 65 of the constitution, a law that regulates movement of Members of Parliament once elected into the Legislature, Malawian law professor Danwood Chirwa has argued.

UDF president Atupele Muluzi (L) with President Peter Mutharika's special aide Ben Phiri: Governing pact has been labelled 'tribal' bu Professor Danwood Chirwa

UDF president Atupele Muluzi (L) with President Peter Mutharika’s special aide Ben Phiri: Governing pact has been labelled ‘tribal’ bu Professor Danwood Chirwa

Chirwa, a professor of law at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, says Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya can declare vacant seats of the UDF MPs who have relocated to government benches.

Section 65 has remained a destabilising factor in the operations of parliament and the safeguarding of the country’s democracy.

Chirwa has been quoted in The Nation saying Section 65 speaks both to the minimum standards as well as aspirational standards as espoused by the Constitution.

“At the very minimum, it [the section] prevents MPs elected on party tickets from switching their allegiance once elected by way either of resigning from that political party or joining another political party.<

“Thus far, we know that UDF MPs have moved from opposition benches to government benches. That conduct can be used to support the view that those MPs have crossed the floor within the meaning of Section 65,” he is quoted saying.

UDF and DPP claim to be in a parliamentary coalition but Chirwa said there is lack of clear issue-based discussion between the two parties and a document that sets out their shared goals.

“What is being sold as a coalition is in actual fact a tribal pact between two tribal formations masquerading as political parties with a national agenda.

“Neither have we seen each party canvassing publicly and within their own parties and constituencies about the possibility and feasibility of the coalition.

“The absence of all these conditions renders the coalition nonexistence, but rather the absorption of one party by another, which has implications for Section 65,” the paper quoted the law scholar.

Public Affairs Committee (PAC), the country’s authoritative interfaith democracy watchdog and advocacy group, have asked the Speaker to crack the Section 65 whip on UDF MPs.

But Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale’s legal opinion –which the Speaker relies on – says UDF move is legal.

Constitutional law expert Edge Kanyongo, who is an associate professor of law at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, also backed the UDF MPs, arguing Section 65 cannot whip them as they have not crossed the floor.

UDF MPs not affected by the move are Balaka North MP and hitherto leader of UDF in Parliament Lucius Banda, party president and Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Atupele Muluzi and Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Clement Chiwaya.

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Imraan Sadick

Stupid Professor

Malawi wa Lero

The father originated it and the son thinks it is not worth having it. All because of greed. Recipe for a fight in the near future i.e. When the majority blind supporters will discover that they have not benefited anything from their sweat.

Misi anguisher

“Blood is thicker than water: there is something hiden in this issue if the laws are not applied urgently later will see that their goals of not respecting the constitution has achieved section 64 and 65 has to work there Mr speaker please use section 64

Now I believe that a lot of our southern friends are daft. Prof. Chirwa is even modest in saying that this is a tribal pact. Actually it is a family pact with cheerleaders (tribesmen largely) which Lucius did not want to be part of. This family pact is masquerading as selfless leaders while they are busy enriching themselves moving from 150m to 62 billion in under 10 years. Declaring 3 billion assets ( After Tenthani questioned – MHSRIEP) hastily revising it to under 1 billion. What was the motive? Muluzi being given TV license, Son getting ministerial posts in all… Read more »
Criticize the prof on what he says but not his tribe, ndiye kutiputa enafe. Physical floor crossing by udf, yes and legal s65 floor crossing by udf, no but the effects of both are the same as if s65 has been breached. It is the effects that is the most important. Is democracy being served here when the smaller coalition partner is being swallowed, muted and forced to obey everything that the bigger partner is saying without any voice or opinion of its own? Is that not the same as one party? Only myopic people don’t see what the prof… Read more »

It is in our blood as Africans that tribalism and regionalism is our staple food. No wonder its only the few politicians that benefits from the state coffers while the rest of us are languishing in stinking povery and happily supporting these fools foolishly. When one tries to enlighten the imbeciles gets unsavoury comments. The Prof. is just saying the obvious.


Is Danwood really a law expert? Surprising. What does section 65 states? Come on,Danwood! Don’t demonstrate your hatred for these two parties here. If at all its an analysis from slaw expert,where is the issue of tribes coming from? Bad for you. UDF hasn’t joined DPP,but has moved to the government side where there is DPP. Section 65 looks at crossing the floor where one joins another political party represented in parliament other than the one whose ticket one was voted for. Danwood,please!!!


Kodi mwati danwood Chirwa ndi Professor wa Law? I doubt if he can teach at a humble university like UNIMA. The guy is dull. He fails to articulate his legal opinion satisfactorily. Kaphale and kanyongolo, men who matter on legal opinions, said it convincingly and one Chirwa who cannot differentiate dumping a political party from a coalition thinks he can confuse Malawian masses? Ndadandaula kutaya nthawi yanga kuwerenga trash imeneyi


Why is it that our laws are difficult to interprete?

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