Malawi lawmaker Shaba loses seat: Sec 65 applied

Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda has declared vacant, a parliamentary seat of Henry Mpofu Shaba after invoking section 65 of the Constitution which bars a member of a political party represented in parliament to join another political party with parliamentary representation.

Shaba won Blantyre-Bangwe constituency on United Democratic Front (UDF) ticket and defected to Democratic Progressive party (DPP) and now is with People’s Party.

However, when they saw that the fire was coming their way, two of the three MPs who were also on the verge of losing their seats Alfred Mwechumu of Mangochi North East and Shamil Asibu of Mangochi South West rushed to the High Court in Mzuzu where they got injunctions.

Mwechumu, Asibu and Ibrahim Matola who now serves as Energy Minister all were UDF legislators but defected to ruling PP.

Shawa: Crossed the floor
Shawa: Crossed the floor

There has been growing pressure for the Speaker to invoke provisions of Section 65 of the Constitution and today’s action has sent shivers to most MPs especially those who defected from the DPP to PP after the death of former President Bingu Mutharika in April last year.

The affected MPs from DPP got an injunction restraining the Speaker from going ahead in declaring their seats vacant despite the Malawi Supreme Court ruling that declared that if an MP from a political party represented in parliament joins another political party also represented in parliament crosses the floor and the seat should be declared vacant to seek fresh mandate from the people.

Section 65.–(1) of the Malawi constitution stipulates that “the Speaker shall declare vacant the seat of any member of the National Assembly who was, at the time of his or her election, a member of one political party represented in the National Assembly, other than by that member alone but who has voluntarily ceased to be a member of that party and has joined another political party represented in the National Assembly.”

There are fears that the Joyce Banda government may fall if the Speaker invokes Section 65 on the other members from the DPP who joined PP who include some influential cabinet ministers as it will have no more than 10 MPs on its side, thereby failing to conduct government business in the national Assembly.

Meanwhile, Rumphi East MP Albert Thindwa, who was on the government side, has gone back to the DPP and requested to be allocated a seat on the opposition side.

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