BJ says hold on Section 65, Malawi cannot afford mass by-elections

Implementing the law that regulates MPs on crossing the floor, Section 65, on legislators who have en masse joined People’s Party (PP) of President Joyce Banda will be catastrophic on the country’s ailing economy, treasurer general for PP, Brown James (BJ) Mpinganjira, has warned.

Over 40 former ruling Democratic Progressive Party MPs who jumped ship and are now working with government risk having their seats declared vacant if Speaker of Parliament, Henry Chimunthu Banda, goes ahead and invokes the Section following a petition from the DPP leadership.

The Speaker wrote MPs that have dumped their political parties for Banda’s party to defend themselves before he makes his final determination.  The MPs have up to Tuesday to respond.

Mpinganjira: Consider economic consequences

Once elected to parliament, an MP isn’t allowed to switch to a party represented in the national assembly unless after a by-election.

But firebrand politician, Mpinganjira a former legislator who was once caught in the cobwebs of Section 65, warned of serious consequences to the economy to hold mass by elections.

“President Joyce Banda is working so hard to put on track the economy and she needs support from everyone especially MPs to reverse some of the bad laws passed by the previous DPP regime,” he said.

“Are we financially stable to hold by-elections in over 50 constituencies? “he queried.

According to him there is need to strike a balance in upholding the rule of law and facing the harsh reality on the ground.

But DPP‘s leader in parliament George Chaponda said the law should be applied regardless of the economic c consequences.

“Malawi opted for democracy. Who said democracy is cheap? There should be no selective application of the law. Let constitutional order be respected at all times,” he said.

Chancellor College law lecturer Dr. Mwiza Nkhata says Section 65 does not completely bar parliamentarians from changing their affiliation but that “it merely creates space for such parliamentarians to seek a fresh mandate should they decide to change their affiliation.”

According to Nkhata the section prevents ‘political immorality’ among parliamentarians.

Malawi hold general elections in May 2014.

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