Political prostitution and ‘Midnight 6’, nightmare in Malawi political history

Malawians joy of change is diminishing as time goes after the autocratic rule of late Bingu Wa Mutharika. This has come not only because of rise in cost of living and other degrading factors, but due to the behaviour of politicians who jump from one party to the other in search of greener pasture. The transition has been a dodgy one Her Excellency Joyce Banda as the selection of your cabinet lies on the same recycled politicians with whom Malawians are yet to understand their core motives.

President Banda, you may be aware that public authorities and officials must be subject to effective sanctions if they depart from the law until they are cleared by the courts. Another sanction is the duty to compensate citizens whose rights have been infringed. Within democracy, those who govern must be accountable, or responsible to those whom they govern. The power to govern derives directly from the votes of the electorates, as well as from their continuing willingness to be governed by their party or government.

In this case, Members of Parliament forming parallel groups from their political party or jumping from one party to the other have to be sanctioned by virtue of infringing the rights of their voters who put them into power. Crossing the floor by Members of Parliament is not only electoral fraud but an attack on the electoral system and indeed on constitutional democracy.

Section 65 of the Malawi Constitution which was highly contested in Malawi Parliament by the then DPP led government because of their majority in parliament was one of the examples of an attack in electoral system. Crossing the floor as it stands leaves the electorate in the ‘cold’ largely because Members of Parliament do not consult with the electorate before deciding to defect.

President Banda: New political order

For example, soon after the death of late President Bingu Wa Mutharika, it is being reported in media that a number of DPP Members of Parliament defect to Peoples Party (PP) of the current President Banda. This system thus undermines participatory democracy and the accountability of politicians as the MP’S are free and independent in their decisions and own conscious forgetting the electorate who voted them into power because of party affiliations and let alone their manifestos. Why don’t they consult the electorate when they want to change the colour?

Her Excellency, with due respect, Malawians expect new political direction from you and not reminding Malawians what happened in 2005/2006 where political prostitution was the order of day. The result does not only derail public trust on politicians but affects development of the country because MP’S fail to participate fully as each political party has its own manifestos and let alone preferences

Another issue making news headlines in media outlets Her Excellency is that of treason or Midnight 6. It has been reported that government intend to bring in charges against some cabinet ministers who proposed to have Peter Mutharika take over government, or set up a commission of Inquiry in the matter. Much as it was against the Laws of Malawi and breach of the constitution, the argument is based not on the alleged proposal or gossip but targeting specific ministers, politicians or close allies in the matter.

It is clear that one of the codes of conduct of Cabinet Ministers while in office is to share in Collective Responsibilities which states that, ‘decisions reached by the cabinet or ministerial committees are binding on all members of the government they serve’. In this case, an element of concealment is inherent in the concept of collective responsibility. Ministers must in the nature of things have differences, but they must outwardly appear to have none to the public and the government they serve. In principle, secrecy attaches to cabinet proceedings, notwithstanding any grouping.

In this case, some cabinet ministers plus those who formed parallel groupings while still serving in DPP are not material worth to be considered as trustworthy individuals for government posts because they do not have collective responsibility as such do not qualify.  Therefore, if treason case is to come all those who were in cabinet were part of it. The group of DPP cabinet and some DPP MP’s who want to portray themselves as clean and righteous politicians are of no exception. Such individuals, Her Excellency Mrs Joyce Banda, given positions in government would put you at risk due to lack of collective responsibility. To be precise, Lord Salisbury (1878) stated the meaning of Collective Responsibility in absolute terms:

“For all that passes in cabinet, every member of it who does not resign is absolutely and irretrievably responsible and has no right afterwards to say that he/she agreed in one case to a compromise, while in another he/she was persuaded by his colleagues………….., It is only on the principle that absolute responsibility is undertaken by every member of the cabinet, who, after a decision is arrived at, remains a member of it……”

Our Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament lack both political and human discipline with the exception of the few individuals who have objectively stood to their respective political party’s and values.

It is therefore, a reminder to Her Excellency Joyce Banda and the Attorney General cum Minister of Justice that pointing at few names of the cabinet members or individuals does not add up. Even the Commission of Inquiry which is to be set up is a waste of resources and that not all Malawians are looking forward to it. In a lighter note, Her Excellency, would you consider “stock- taking” some of your hasty chosen cabinet and see what they have left behind that would ruin your political career.

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