Speaker to act on Section 65, defecting MPs panic

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Chimunthu Banda, is set to act on the petitions he had received against those people who have crossed the floor.

Section 65 of the Malawi Constitution bars law makers from joining another party already represented in the House.

After the budget presentation, about 110 members of parliament who have defected to ruling People’s Party (PP) were in a shock to receive letters from the Speaker informing them on the Speakers stand on the matter.

Speaker Chimunthu Banda: To invoke Section 65

According to a letter signed by Chimunthu Banda dated 7th of June tiled: “RE: Invoke Section 65 of the constitution”, the Speaker has asked all the members who have received the letter to respond to it within seven days from today.

“In accordance with standing orders 46(1) your required to respond to the office of the Speaker on allegations within 7 days upon expiring of which a ruling shall be given in the chamber on the date to appointed by the Speaker,” reads the letter.

The office of the Speaker said received a petition from former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on 6 June signed by the party’s House leader George Chaponda.

The DPP petitioned the Speaker to declare seats vacant for the members who have crossed the floor, in contravention of Section 65.

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.

After presentation of the budget by Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga, all members had converged at minister’s waiting room at parliament premises for an n impromptu caucus on the matter.

Most of the MPs likely to be affected by the Section 65 said they have been assured by Minister of Justice and Attorney General Ralph Kasambara that government would move the court to protect them.

But DPP‘s leader in the House, Chaponda, a law expert himself, said “Section 65 was a political issue that could not be resolved through the courts but rather Parliament itself.”

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