No recall provision, no Sec. 65, no election!

It never ceases to amaze me as to how timid we, Malawians, are when it comes to standing up for our God and constitutionally given rights. One thing for sure, we are excellent at grumbling, apportioning blame and wishing things were better. But we are a hopeless lot when it comes to grabbing the bull by the horns and ensuring that we decisively deal with issues that determine our national destiny.

Let’s take the issue of the Recall Provision originally under S. 63:1(g) and S. 64 (subsequently repealed by Act No. 6 of 1995) and the issues of “Crossing the Floor” in section 65 of our constitution. It is evident that the framers of our constitution had very good intentions when incorporating these provisions; voters could recall a non-performing Member of Parliament (MP) and elected representatives would lose their seat if they joined another party that was represented in the august house.

This was meant to protect the electorate from wayward, opportunistic and selfish MPs. However, our politicians hijacked the spirit of the provisions and have held this country to ransom ever since the advent of multiparty politics in Malawi.

Chikabvu Nyirenda
Chikabvu Nyirenda

They have devilishly compromised their true role of representing the people and succumbed to egoistic gluttonous intent by cunningly skirting these crucial issues for so long; sadly, Malawians have been tacitly compliant by not demanding appropriate closure. It boggles the mind that almost 20 years after our first democratic vote, we have not yet settled the issue regarding recall of non-performing MPs and the shameless constant movement of MPs from one party to another.

Are our presidents serious? Is our parliament serious? Is the Speaker serious? Is our judiciary serious? Is the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) serious? Are our churches serious? Are our NGOs and CSOs serious? Are we, Malawians as a people, serious? You mean, collectively we are unable to lay to rest such fundamental issues and yet we continue to moan at the blatant executive arrogance, lack of transparency and accountability, improper governance, fraud and corruption, lack of issue-based campaigns and lack of ideological differences in our political parties?!

Principally, the only election that counts in Malawi is that of the presidency since elected MPs, whether sponsored by a political party or independent, can simply join the “ruling party” i.e. President’s party, in an attempt to board the gravy train with or without the electorates’ blessings.

Of course, an unfortunate precedent was set by the late Bingu wa Mutharika when he unceremoniously betrayed the UDF and formed DPP after being elected president on the former party’s ticket. Just like our errant MPs who unashamedly prostitute themselves by changing parties without any repercussions, a president is quirkily at liberty, on a personal whim, to ditch a sponsoring party and form another and still be recognized as president! Seriously, even the president must not be allowed to “cross the floor” under any technicality and the Bingu UDF/DPP scenario must be the last of its kind.

To put these issues in perspective, lets say, Professor Chisi, President of Umodzi Party (UP) wins the presidential race. Out of the 193 MPs, UP might have 30 elected representatives at the time of the results. However, a few weeks later the same UP could conceivably have 150 MPs on its side simply by individual announcements by elected MPs that they have now joined the “ruling UP!” And we expect politically-induced fraud and corruption to be a thing of the past? Don’t we see that the criss-crossing is, by its nature, a form of fraud and corruption? What if President Professor Chisi decides to join Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM) instead of forming a party of his own? And where would it stop? Supposing President Professor Chisi kept changing parties every year?!! It’s freedom of association, right? What about the ethical responsibility of association?

Let’s wake up Malawians! We are talking of attaining 50 years of independence without any laudable achievement. This is, in no small measure, attributable to political leadership failure and a distinct lack of moral integrity. Yet we continue to set ourselves up for even more disappointment by our inability to deal with some fundamental issues that have defined our miserable present after close to 20 years of democracy and 50 years of independence. What would it take for us to insist that, say, the issue of the recall provision and crossing the floor, for example, be definitively dealt with before the May, 2014 elections?

This is a clarion call to all Malawians of the need to be vigilant against and to urgently address the constant circumvention of our constitution. We cannot go on like this. For a start, as a deterrent to the inevitable opportunistic scoundrels that we may elect as MPs, PAC – as an umbrella body – should seriously ensure that the matters contained in our constitution under Section 63 (g), the original provisions under Section 64 and the stipulations in Section 65 are firmly resolved and implemented before the elections even if it means an emergency parliament session. PAC, in concert with all Malawians, must unequivocally assert that, “NO recall, NO Section 65, NO ELECTIONS!”

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