Activist faults President Banda’s excuse on Section 65

Head of rights group Civic and Political Space Platform, Billy Mayaya, has said the statement by President Joyce Banda that  the defection law, Section 65, could have negative economic repercussions on the people of Malawi is applied is regrettable.

Electoral Commission says  it would need K4.6 billion to conduct by-elections in 31 constituencies and another K225 million for two by-elections in Mzimba Central and South West- taking the cost to about K5 billion (about $20m).

And President Banda told a public rally in Mangochi on Sunday that government would not have money to fun by-election of 41 MPs, 39 from DPP and two from UDF,  when general elections are going to be held in two year’s time.

Mayaya: Banda reinforcing the same old excuses that the UDF and DPP utilised

The President said she would rather “authorize release of such a huge amount for the acquisition of food and medical drugs .”

But  Mayaya faulted the President for using lack of resources as an excuse not to apply a Constitutional provision.

“The President’s statement referring to the fact that there are no resources to have by-elections is most disconcerting because it is reinforcing the same old excuses that the UDF and DPP utilised to disenfranchise Malawians from removing representatives who are not  upholding the rule of law,” Mayaya told Nyasa Times.

“ The electorate are fed with being given the run around on a clear constitutional matter,” he said.

Mayaya, who was  one of the critics of late president Bingu wa Mutharika on human rights, democracy and governance issues, says the civil society will not give Banda government a blind eye when the Constitution is not respected.

“ As civil society, we demand a return to constitutionalism with the implementation of Section 65,” he said.

“Additionally we demand the return of the Recall Provision (Section 64). The Government should not use the flimsy excuses of a lack of resources. The money will come from our hard earned taxes,” said Mayaya.

A constitutional lawyer Edge Kanyongolo  told a weekend paper that  Section 65 is a straightforward issue which only needs adherence to procedures and  that the aggrieved should be heard.

“Having received the letter from DPP, the Speaker would not have made a decision before giving a chance to the targeted MPs,”  the law professor is quoted by the Weekend Nation.

The Speaker was stopped from making his determination on petitions on Section 65  by  an injunction obtained by Ntcheu West MP Chikumbutso John Hiwa which was served on him  through Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara .

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