United Democratic Front (UDF) members of Parliament (MPs) have been goven a go ahead to join their Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) counterparts on the government benches in Parliament, Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya has confirmed .
The UDF MPs will relocate to the government benches from Tuesday when Parliament reconvenes for national budget deliberations.
President Peter Mutharika is scheduled to open the Budget Meeting of Parliament this Tuesday. The 2015/16 budget sitting, will go on until July 3.
UDF whose leader Atupele Muluzi drafted in President Peter Mutharika’s Cabinet as Minister of Home Affair and Internal Security, requested the Speaker to relocate its 14 MPs to government benches to reflect the governing pact.
Speaker Msowoya confirmed the new sitting arrangement, saying UDF will not be contravening any law .
“UDF MPs will sit on the government side. The Attorney General [Kalekeni Kaphale] says there is nothing wrong for the members to ask to be moved and as a Speaker, any member is free in the chamber. So, as it stands, UDF MPs will now sit on government benches,” Speaker Msowoya said.
UDF chief whip in Parliament Lilian Patel said the move to relocate to government benches was agreed by the party.
Constitutional law expert Edge Kanyongolo, who is an associate professor of law at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, argued that there is no defection in the relocation as Section 65 did not refer to the physical movement of MPs in the House, but the act of leaving one political party to join another or an organisation whose objectives are political in nature.
UDF came to power in 1994 after defeating Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in 1994. It swept seats in the Southern Region and most seats in the Central Region. During the 1999 elections, UDF won 91 seats, but the figures continued to drop in the subsequent elections when it won 49 seats in 2004 and 16 in 2009.