As Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda looks set to apply Section 65, one of the possible victims, Uladi Mussa has made his intentions clear that he will seek court relief.
Section 65 is the controversial law that stops any MP from joining another party represented in parliament or outside, other than the one that sponsored their candidature.
Mussa, Malawi’s Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister, told Nyasa Times in an interview that there is no logic in Speaker to bow down to opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) demands to have seats of over 40 MPs declared vacant by their virtue of flocking to the ruling People’s Party (PP) of President Joyce Banda.
“This is a political scheme that has been devised by the DPP out of petty jealous to cause mayhem in the country but as government we will not accept that, hence am heading to the courts to get an injunction,” said Mussa.
Mussa who disbanded his Maravi Peeople’s Party (MPP) to join PP soon after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, took a swipe at the DPP saying it also survived from same scenario where MPs from other parties came to join the party when it was in government during the first term of Mutharika.
He said lawmakers “are not slave or prisoners” to be tied to a party even if there is breakdown of relationship, saying they are free to change political goals posts in consultations with their constituents.
He said the Section 65 was in conflict with other laws in the Constitution which allows freedom of association and Section 40 (2) which allows parties like PP “to recruit” members.
Wondered Mussa: “Why is it an issue now? From 2004 to 2009 DPP had six MPs but they poached over 50 extra ones from other parties. Since when has DPP leadership realized that ditching a party that sponsored you during elections to join another is breach of constitution? Every single individual has the moral as well as constitutional right to move from one party to the other, that is what is called freedom of association.”
He called DPP leadership’s pursuit to Section 65 as “hypocritical of the highest order.”
The DPP has been pinning down the Speaker to send packing all lawmakers that left their party.
However, the issue has raised heated debate on whether DPP is the best example to pen Chimunthu Banda to invoke the controversial section.
While other schools of thought in the legal fraternity have contended that issue of DPP benefiting from similar instance does not make the Section invalid hence the need for the Speaker to declare vacant seats of promiscuous MPs.
Coincidentally, it is another Mussa, this time a Zomba Central Parliamentarian, (not related to Uladi) who kept the then DPP government’s ball rolling with his injunction that lasted for three years in court in the run up to the 2009 polls that saw the DPP sweeping a landslide victory.
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.
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