Pressure mounts on Speaker to invoke Sec 65

Pressure is mounting on for the Speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Chimunthu Banda, to invoke Section 65 at a time when over two thirds of the Members of Parliament have defected to the now ruling People’s Party (PP).

Joining the choruses now include political scientists and the Malawi Law Society with the latter threatening legal action against Office of the Speaker to ensure that the Constitution is upheld in totality.

Converts in the National Assembly are alleged to contravene anti-defection law Section 65.

A political scientist, Happy Kayuni, has questioned the delays by office of the Speaker to apply Section 65 against the defectors.

Speaker Chimunthu Banda: Invoke Section 65

“It is unfortunate that politicians have over the years tried to manipulate the system. I believe that whether they have crossed to PP or any other political party, the Section has to be invoked. The law is not meant to favour one group against the other”, declared Kayuni, who is currently with the University of Western Cape in South Africa.

His sentiments were in reference to former ruling DPP, who since its formulation in 2005, failed to implement the constitutional clause initiated to check the migration of the MPs commonly abused without the blessing of their electorates.

The conventional approach would be for such MPs to seek fresh mandate through by-election which other commentators have argued is costly.

DPP is the biggest casualty of the great voyage of the National Assembly. The party had close to 150 “well-trained praise team” members in the National Assembly. But reports say the august House currently sitting in the Capital Lilongwe indicate that DPP membership is in tatters like “old window-curtains” as predicated by the former president, Bakili Muluzi, with its membership crumbling profligately with just below 30 MPs sitting on its allocated opposition benches.

But the DPP Leader in Parliament, George Chaponda, while sounding repentant, declared that his party will do anything to ensure that the Speaker kicks out the nomadic MPs.

In what might be perceived as a tit-for-tat which has customarily been there between DPP and PP since its formation, Chaponda argued that two wrongs do not make a right.

“If we were wrong that time it does not mean that this [PP-led] government should follow suit. We will make sure Section 65 is implemented this time around [that we are in opposition]”, Chaponda said remorsefully.

However, this did not stop Kayuni from questioning the credibility of DPP in the Section 65 saga which initially sheltered its members through court injunctions which stopped the speaker from acting against defectors.

“In principle, the law in Malawi states that ‘those who seek justice should come with clean hands’. However, DPP is looking for justice but its hands are completely tainted hence they should be the last to ask for it as far as Section 65 is concerned,” stressed Kayuni ,who was once Head of the Department for the Political and Administrative studies at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi.

Consequently, the Malawi Society Law Society (MLS) has expressed interests to seek legal redress against the quagmire that the Constitution is locked in regarding section 65.

“[We] suspect a conspiracy by our political parties. Malawians must remain on guard on this,” MLS president, John Gift Mwakhwawa, told the press earlier this year.

Both Makhwawa and Kayuni acknowledged that it is much difficult to implement Section 65 in an environment where political parties stand to benefit from.

Indeed it is yet to be seen who will come out victorious from the evident rivalry which has existed between DPP and other opposition parties which then included the PP. Ironically, all parties, save for DPP, are in support of Joyce Banda and her PP led government.

Furthermore, DPP is dealt with heavy knockbacks as its once stubborn high ranking officers like Symon Vuwa Kaunda and Yunus Mussa have expressed their desire to join and work with PP.

Additionally, UDF and MCP who were the doughty proponents of Section 65 during the DPP stint in government are non-committal as they have taken a less militant approach on the subject despite being casualties. This leaves DPP to be a lone-ranger in this constitutional leeway.

But the DPP can take refuge in the Malawi Law Society (MLS) which showed interests to take legal action.

On 11th January this year, MLS President urged Malawians to be on guard against tendencies often employed by political parties to undermine the land’s supreme law as he warned renegades against court action should the speaker continue with his delays.

“I am seriously thinking of persuading Malawi Law Society to take this matter to court and compel the Speaker to act,” revealed Mwakhwawa.

But a constitutional review specified that cabinet appointments do not amount to breach of Section 65.

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