Speaker snubs Malawi opposition on Section 65 ruling

Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu-Banda says there is no indication that he will tackle the issue of anti-defection law Section 65 of the Malawi Constitution during the February parliamentary sitting as demanded by the opposition political parties and Public Affairs Committee (PAC) despite many Members of Parliament (MPs) crossing the floor.

During the last sitting the opposition political parties were pushing the speaker to make a ruling on the constitutional provision which bars members of parliament (MPs) to join another political party which is represented in the national assembly.

But the battle stopped just before the Speaker was about to rule on the matter after one of the MPs who are deemed to have crossed the floor, Chikumbutso John Hiwa obtained a court injunction at the Lilongwe High Court restraining the Speaker to act on the matter. The opposition political parties tried in vain to vacate the injunction.

Speaker Chimunthu Banda: Cited injuctions as impediment:

Speaker Chimunthu Banda: Cited injuctions as impediment:

Banda says it will be impossible for him to act this time around because the issue is in court.

“The issue of Section 65 at this point in time is at the court and therefore until the court processes are over we may not have these issues back in the house. It is now been handled by the attorney general’s office,” says Chimunthu-Banda.

However the major opposition political parties in the national assembly have vowed that they will do everything possible to ensure that the speaker has made a ruling on the section 65. This comes few days after the representative of the public affairs committee met the speaker of the parliament where they asked him to act on section 65.

Spokesperson for the opposition Democratic Progress party Nicholas Dausi whose party lost about 90 MPs to the ruling People’s Party says it’s high time the Speaker should implement the legislation.

“I strongly believe that during the forthcoming parliament the speaker will rule that those MPs who crossed the floors should return to their parties because this is what Malawi constitution says,” said Dausi.

Malawi Congress Party, which also lost a number of its legislatures to government benches, says it is illogical for the government to ignore Sections 65 and maintained that the party is waiting for the action of the Speaker on the matter.

But People’s Party officials have declined to comment on the issue arguing cannot not do so on the issues that is in court.

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