Sec 65: Justice Mwangungulu says Speaker’s hands not tied, PAC wants action

Supreme Court Judge Dunstain Mwaungulu has given an expert legal opinion to Public Affairs Committee (PAC) in relation to controversial anti defection law Section 65 indicating that the Speaker’s hands are not tied under the current law and PAC has called for action.

This was disclosed by PAC chairperson Rev Dr Felix Chimbote when the religious body met Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya and his team on Wednesday at Parliament Building in Lilongwe over implementation of Section 65 and other constitutional issues.

Speaker Richard Msowoya: Asked to crack the whip on Section 65
Speaker Richard Msowoya: Asked to crack the whip on Section 65

Rev Chingota said Justice Mwaungulu,  who  represented  the  Chief  Justice in offering a legal opinion,  gave “  another  angle  on  the  interpretation  of  Section 65. He  emphasized  the fact  that  the Speaker’s  hands  are not  tied  under the  current  law. The  law  still  gives  him/her  powers  where  MPs  have  crossed  the  floor.”

He said PAC’s position on Section 65 is that the Speaker, as the constitutional provision stands now, has powers to invoke Section 65 and expel members of Parliament (MPs) who cross the floor.

“It is  our  belief  therefore that the  practice  on  the application  of  Section 65  should  be revisited  by  your  office,” Chingota told the Speaker. “ It  should  not  be  business  as usual  that  your hands  are  tied  up.  We  trust that  this  time  around  any  MP  that  crosses  the  floor  must  face  the  wrath  of  this  law. “

Chingota said PAC also drafted the former Speaker, Henry Chimunthu Banda, as a “resource person to appreciate technicalities on Section 65.”

PAC demanded “transformative leadership “in dealing with the anti-defection law.

“Please deal  with  those  who  cross  the  floor because  there  is  already a  school of  thought  that  as  Speaker  of  National  Assembly, you  have  the powers  to  take  such  decisions,” Chingota told  Speaker Msowoya

PAC said its delegates during a consultative meeting  demanded  to  swiftly  move in  dealing  with  the  constitutional  review  in  order  to  cover  various  gaps  that  exist  in  the  Republican  Constitution.

Among issues that stakeholders want to be addressed in the constitutional review is to do with the election of a President.

PAC backs the suggestion that a presidential candidate must muster a 50+1 percentage vote to be declared a winner and not just a simple majority vote as is the case.

In the May 2014 presidential race, President Peter Mutharika won with a majority vote of 36.4 percent.

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