UDF supports Section 65 implementation

The United Democratic Front (UDF) has pledged to support any grouping championing implementation of anti-defection law, Section 65 by Speaker of Parliament during the forthcoming meeting of Parliament.

President Joyce Banda is on Friday February 8, 2013 expected to officially open a mid-term budget Parliamentary meeting which is also set to deliberate on 18 bills outlined to be tabled.

However, Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda has disclosed the controversial Section will not be part of the deliberations until all legal battles surrounding it are concluded.

Banda said he could not invoke the Section on the legislatures who crossed the floor due to injunctions some of them obtained, restraining him from unleashing the law.

Padambo (right) with UDF president Atupele Muluzi and vice preident Iqbar Omar: Section 65 should be applied, its a constitutional order
Padambo (right) with UDF president Atupele Muluzi and vice preident Iqbar Omar: Section 65 should be applied, its a constitutional order

But one of the country’s main opposition parties, UDF has vowed to push and support those calling for Chimunthu Banda to invoke the Section.

UDF Secretary General, Kandi Padambo said in an interview:  “UDF upholds the rule of law and respect of country’s Constitution. We are ready to support those pushing for the implementation of Section 65 because it will not only benefit concerned parties but the country as whole”.

Meanwhile, former ruling party, DPP, MCP, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and Evangelical Church of Malawi (ECM) have rolled up their sleeves to ensure Chimunthu Banda invokes the Section, which if is upheld, will affect the ruling Peoples Party (PP) which has only one eligible MP with others as defectors from opposition parties.

“All laws have to be respected. Section 65 is a crucial provision entrenched in our Constitution. People elect their Parliamentarians with a view they will support and promote their party values, so when one chooses to cross the floor, there is no need to let the law shield them as that is regarded as disrespect to their constituents.

“Surprisingly both DPP and current PP regimes have failed to uphold the rule of law. It is only UDF that allowed Section 65 take its toll on those who crossed the floor; the likes of Fred Nseula and Simeon Khanfula were not spared during UDF’s regime,” Padambo added.

Meanwhile, ECM has formed a taskforce to, among other things, mobilize support, and vacate obtained injunctions restraining the Speaker invoking the controversial Section.

The church said was concerned with continuous disregard of the country’s Constitution, and that it will engage legal counsel to vacate the injunctions apart from holding vigils at Parliament building and homes of affected MPs until the Section is implemented.

During the last Parliamentary meeting, the opposition political parties pushed for the Speaker to make a ruling on the constitutional provision which bars members of parliament (MPs) to join another political party which is represented in the national assembly.

But the battle stopped just before the Speaker was about to rule on the matter after one of the MPs who are deemed to have crossed the floor, Chikumbutso John Hiwa obtained a court injunction at the Lilongwe High Court restraining the Speaker to act on the matter. The opposition political parties tried in vain to vacate the injunction.

However the major opposition political parties in the national assembly have vowed that they will do everything possible to ensure that the speaker has made a ruling on the section 65.

DPP lost about 90 MPs to the ruling People’s Party with about 30 of them to have already returned to their former party for fear of being affected by the Section. UDF as well as MCP also lost a number of its legislatures to government benches.

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