The United Democratic Front (UDF), which relocated from opposition to government benches, continues to lose its identity in Parliament with Speaker Richard Msowoya announcing the party has lost membership in the Business Committee.
Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) MPs questioned the decision by Speaker to include Lilian Patel as UDF chief whip in the business committee when the party will no longer have a leader or representation in the House.
Dedza South West MP Clement Mlombwa (MCP) cited Standing Order 155, which states that the business committee shall comprise the Speaker, leader of the House, leader of opposition, leaders of parties not in government and opposition party whips.
The Speaker who promised to consult with the business committee on the way forward on Monday reported back to the House the committee discussed the issue of UDF membership in the Business Committee
“I wish to inform the House that, after a careful consideration of Standing Order 155, the Business Committee resolved that UDF cannot have representation in the Business Committee,” the Speaker told the House.
UDF described its partnership with DPP as a ‘parliamentary coalition’.
There have been calls to have UDF MPs who have relocated to government benches have their seats declared vacant for floor crossing.
But associate professor of law Edge Kanyongolo of Chancellor College argues that by just physically moving to the government side, UDF MPs had not contravened the spirit of Section 65, which describes the process of “crossing the floor”.
UDF has 11 MPs seated on the government side, which has increased DPP’s numerical strength in the 193-member National Assembly to 63, excluding Banda and Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Clement Chiwaya who are UDF, but not affected by the move.