Ignoring Sec. 65 may create one party state – Malawi Law Society

Malawi Law Society president John Gift Mwankhwawa has warned that failure by Speaker of Parliament to apply the anti-defection law Section 65 risks Malawi turning into a one party state in future.

They persuade Speaker, Henry Chimunthu Banda, to invoke Section 65 at a time when over two thirds of the Members of Parliament have defected to the now ruling People’s Party (PP).

According to Mwankhwawa, the Section is of paramount importance to the country’s democracy and any attempts to keep ignoring its implementation are “a threat to democracy and rule of law.”

Makhwawa: Apply Section 65

“The section [65] is effective and why it’s not being implemented might be weaknesses by the petitioners or Speaker’s own inclinations,” Makhwawa observed.

“Imagine the country without section 65. If the section will keep on being ignored then it means in 2014 elections a party that wins will have members from losing parties coming to join thereby turning the country into a one party state,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Speaker is yet to make a determination following a petition from opposition DPP on its MPs who have crossed the floor to PP.

On why DPP is pursuing the Section 65 issue now when the party survived on the Speaker not applying the Section, spokesperson Nicholas Dausi says the party is fighting for respect of the Constitution regardless of what they did during its time.

However, the executive through lawmaker Chikumbutso Hiwa obtained a court injunction gagging the Speaker from making any pronouncements on the law that regulates members from crossing he floor.

A political scientist, Happy Kayuni, who is currently with the University of Western Cape in South Africa, says politicians have over the years tried to manipulate the system.

“I believe that whether they have crossed to PP or any other political party, the Section has to be invoked. The law is not meant to favour one group against the other”, declared Kayuni, former Head of the Department for the Political and Administrative studies at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi.

He says the conventional approach would be for such MPs to seek fresh mandate through by-election which other commentators have argued is costly.

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