Malawi’s Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has asked the country’s judges to give the public a clear direction to be taken on Section 65 of the constitution, a law the bars Members of Parliament from joining another political party once elected into the Legislature.
Pac Chairperson Felix Chingota made the remarks after engaging the judges over the matter as one way of advocating for implementation of Section 65 among others. Chingota said the meeting was organized after realizing that judges were critical in the interpretation of the law.
“We have received arguments during our stakeholders’ meetings that the Speaker has full powers to declare the seats vacant and therefore the hands are not tied at all. What direction should we bank on? Are you tying the hands of Speaker or they have deliberately tied themselves up?” said Chingota.
He added: “While courts have done a tremendous job in dispensing justice in Malawi, it is the practice of democracy to have conflicting views on the outcomes of the court rulings on some matter. This is not bad especially in a country like ours which follows a common law approach. Precedents are vital in our systems.”
Chingota said the Committee wanted to share views with the judge on Section 65 because the section has remained a destabilising factor in the operations of parliament and the safeguarding of the country’s democracy
“Pac has been observing that the Speaker’s hands have been tied up especially because injunctions are obtained before the Speaker has made a determination. PAC wonders why MPs that cross the floor seek relief before they are injured by the determination. The public too has been at pains to appreciate these injunctions,” he said.
Chingota noted that as much as the MPs have the right to be protected by the legal remedies available the trends have been worrisome to the voters who at the end feel cheated.
Already several MPs who were elected during the May 20 elections have crossed the floor to join parties which did not sponsor their candidature.