Nyasa Times editorial: Implement Section 65!

Lawyer John Gift Mwakwawa has just reminded the nation of the constitutional integrity of Section 65. It is a well  established fact, that the DPP of the late Bingu Mutharika manipulated the constitutional channels to render this Section almost useless. The Section is very clear when it comes to MPs who ‘cross the floor’, which in the case of current Malawi’s party politics, is very easy to notice.

In the aftermath of Mutharika’s immortalization, the 40+ DPP MPs in question wrote the speaker notifying him that they have crossed floors. Shocking that Speaker Chimunthu Banda, a learned man he is, and head of our legislature, should pretend that he never had evidence regarding such political prostitution. Baffling incompetence!

The truth is, Section 65 has been in challenged in Malawian courts, several  times.

Our understanding is that the Section was amended, and, according to the Supreme Court clarification, if an MP associated with a political organization that is not even in Parliament, they have crossed floors, as long as the new organisation’s objectives are political in nature and contrary to the sponsoring party’s objectives. It is as simple as that. Or in simple terms, it implies that, an MP who was sponsored by a certain party, cannot just decide to work with another party without his or her party’s or constituent’s permission.

There is a very fluid ad hominem argument, that implementing Section 65 now will destabilize the de facto PP government;

Yet, we at the Nyasa Times contend that the People’s Party (PP) will still succeed so long as they have good policies.

We would like to point out two public shames that we at the Nyasa Times abhor:

The first is that the people in the PP accusing the DPP on section 65 were the same ones in the DPP at that time in 2004. For example, people like Ralph Kasambara as the then Attorney General and Henry Phoya as the then Minister of Justice.

The second shame is that PP is arguing in broad daylight that they are in the process of correcting DPP mistakes. If the DPP made a mistake on Section 65, shouldn’t the PP correct that as well?

At the same time, we do appreciate that democracy is a very expensive exercise. In this case, holding over 40 bye-elections just before 2014 could be an expensive exercise. We would rather live with that than political prostitutes that have no political capital.


Implementing Section 65 will probably destabilize the current transitional government; but we at Nyasa Times recognize that without the recognition of the same Constitution, Mrs. Joyce Banda would never have become our president.

We challenge our President, Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda, and the Attorney General Ralph Kasambara, to stop playing kitten politics with the Constitution, and order the uplifting of the unnecessary injunction, so that the Speaker’s declaration becomes effective.

In that case, we will request Mrs Banda to enter into negotiations with the DPP, MCP and UDF regarding forming a genuine (and not backdoor) national unity government so as to see out the end of the current political tenure. If that requires that John Tembo or anyone else becoming the second vice president, so be it.

As a nation, we cannot promote the implementation of the Constitution when it suits Mrs. Joyce Banda just because we disliked Bingu wa Mutharika; our like or dislike for the Constitution should be based on political principles. In fact, Nyasa Times is shocked that the institutions and individuals who called upon the respect of the constitution after the late president entered immortality, are totally silent. Is this a case of selective advocacy?

We are challenging President Banda and Attorney General Ralph Kasambara to demonstrate that the current PP regime is not a political masquerade of DPP nor UDF.

As a larger agenda, what we at the Nyasa Times are calling for, is a constitutional review, not just of Section 65; but of several sections. Should for example, Joyce Banda have the right to fire Khumbo Kachali as vice president? Should Boards of public sector organizations be appointed by the President?

The Speaker must do his work on Section 65.

We will always be Nyasa Times; constitution first, the rest comes later!

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