Attorney General exonerates JB from Section 65 debate

Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Ralph Kasambara, has said President Joyce Banda is not party to the debate on implementation of Section 65 of the Malawi Constitution which regulates movement of legislators in Parliament.

Kasambara was speaking as a panellist at Mzuzu University during a public discussion organized by the Youth Association for Democracy (YADEMA) to mark the commemoration July 20 events of this day last year when at least 20 Malawians were killed following nation-wide anti-government demonstrations.

He was responding to a question posed by a member of the audience who suggested the Joyce Banda administration, like governments before it, was violating the law by refusing to implement the controversial piece of legislation.

Kasambara: Section 65 is the domain of Speaker

The audience member said one of the reasons that forced citizens to stage last year’s fatal demonstrations was government’s poor governance record which included not following the law and suggested the People’s Party (PP) administration had also shown a lack of willingness to follow the law by refusing to implement Section 65.

Kasambara leapt to the defence of the present government, particularly the president, insisting President Banda is not party to the debate on Section 65.

“The matter of Section 65 does not concern the President or the Executive (arm of government),” Kasambara said.

He said a political party, the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was seeking the expulsion from parliament PP members it deemed to have crossed the floor and the concerned individuals took the matter to court.

“President (Joyce) Banda is not involved at all,” Kasambara said, adding if people wanted to accuse the present administration of flawing the law, they must cite other examples and not the implementation or lack of it of Section 65.

Speaking at the same public discussion, veteran writer and Nyasa Times columnist, Emily Mkamanga who was also a panellist at the discussion, said generally voices of poor people are not heard even when what they are saying makes sense.

“Mobilizing and staging demonstrations affords the voiceless an opportunity to be heard,” she said.

Another panellist to the discussion, Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) Secretary General, Dan Msowoya, said he had no regrets participating in the demonstrations, saying the demonstrations were only fatal because the state machinery was used to disrupt, rather than facilitate people’s enjoyment to their right to stage peaceful demonstrations.

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