UDF relocates to opposition benches in Malawi Parliament

The 43rd session of Parliament commenced on Monday afternoon at the parliament building in the Malawi capital Lilongwe with  a moment of high drama when United Democratic Front (UDF) lawmakers took their seats on the opposition benches moving away from Joyce Banda government.

The development comes after the party’s leader and presidential candidate, Atupele Muluzi, resigned his post of minister of economic planning.

But UDF parliamentary spokesperson Mahammed Lali explained that the lawmakers sat on opposition benches out of their own decision.

“It’s true we sat in the opposition side but it’s not because of the resignation of our national chairman from government. We will be communicating to our supporters why this has happened,” Lali said.

Mahamudu Lali: UDF exodus from government benches

“After this we are to and hold a caucus and map the way forward,” Lali told a local radio after the adjournment of parliament on Monday afternoon.

Lali further said the issue of Muluzi’s resignation from Cabinet will be discussed during the caucus to be held soon.

“It’s not that by being in opposition side we will be opposing everything that comes on the plate. But I would like to make a point here that if the bills that are to come will not be favourable for Malawians then it will leave us with no choice but to strongly oppose that,” Lali said.

Earlier on UDF announced that its legislators will be seating on government side but after Muluzi’s resignation made headlines on a day Parliament was reconvening, members of the former ruling UDF agreed to seat on opposition side.

Muluzi tendered his resignation to President Joyce Banda after she held a rally in southern Mangochi, a district where Muluzi is popular, that he does not even speak the local Yao dialect and “yet he wants to become president.”

Atupele said the attacks showed that Banda and some ministers “lacked the courtesy, mutual respect and dignity that is expected between colleagues.”

“As a matter of principle, I do not believe that I can continue to serve as a member of the cabinet with the honour and dignity that is a requisite for the performance of such duties.”

He is the first minister to leave Banda’s inclusive government, which was formed seven months ago with the aim of achieving economic recovery and regaining donor confidence.

Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda also announced that 12 MPs who had joined ruling People’s Party (PP) have gone back to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and have asked the Speaker to relocate to assign them seats along with fellow DPP members.

The session ordinary begun with swearing in ceremony of two parliamentarians, Mabvuto Kachali and Raymond Nkhata who won the Mzimba by-elections recently.

After the swearing in ceremony and announcements, the House started deliberating the Loan Authorization bill.

Twenty-four bills will be tabled besides several ministerial statements during the meeting expected to last for three weeks.

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