Sec 65 part of constitutional order, President Banda advised

Malawi political parties and the civil society have made a passionate appeal to President Joyce Banda to ensure she sticks to her principles of upholding the Constitution by respecting the anti-defection law, Section 65,  to avoid poaching lawmakers without them seeking fresh mandate.

Banda ascended to power  by Constitutional order on April 7  following the death on April 5 of 78-year-old president Bingu wa Mutharika after a heart attack.

Her People’s Party (PP) was formed when she was expelled from Mutharika’s DPP in 2009 and never contested an election to have its own MPs.

But since becoming the Head of State, many members of former ruling DPP are defecting to PP. The new governing party is also reportedly enticing members of other opposition parties to jump ship and join the government benches.

President Banda urged to continue uphold the Constitution

The President has reportedly told the MPs that if they want to work with her, as individuals, they must formally resign from their parties, write the Speaker of Parliament of their decision and join her PP.

However, the President has been advised to allow a due process of the law to take course on the defectors.

Section 65 of the Constitution states that the Speaker shall declare vacant the seat of any member of the National Assembly who was, at the time of his or her election, a member of one political party represented in the National Assembly, but who has voluntarily ceased to be a member of that party and has joined another political party.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) wants the implementation of Section 65 of the Constitution after several MPs crossed the floor in Parliament since 2009.

MLS president John Gift Mwakhwawa said they would seriously consider compelling the Speaker of Parliament to act on those who have crossed the floor, in contravention of Section 65.

An injunction which Zomba Central MP Yunus Mussa obtained in 2007 restraining the Speaker from implementing Section 65 was no longer in effect, according to the law body.

MCP chief whip in Parliament Joseph Njobvuyalema said it would be important for the respect of Constitutional order  not to be selective.

“There should be  proper implementation of Section 65. It is part of the Constitution ,” he said.

UDF’s chief whip Clement Chiwaya also said they would want the laws to be respected.

“Let the laws be upheld at all times,” he said.

Commentators, including former president Bakili Muluzi , advised Her Excellency Banda to form a government of national unity (GNU in the best interests of the country, geared towards resolving its economic, social and political problems.

Muluzi, who is also Africa’s goodwill ambassador, said Banda needs political parties represented in Parliament to pass bills and budgets to ensure development but cautioned against walking away on Constitutional order as regards Section 65.

However, Chancellor College political science associate professor Blessings Chinsinga, also said there should be respect to the Constitution at all times.

MCP has roughly 30 parliamentarians, making it the single largest bloc in the National Assembly after DPP, which has about 140 MPs. UDF has 18, Mafunde (1), Maravi (1) and Aford (2). The rest are independents.

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