United Democratic Front (UDF) says it will not stifle debate among party members on the party’s’ decision to move to the government side in parliament as long as it is done with civility and within the structures of the party.
UDF parliamentarians’ movement to the government side in the House with its leader Lucius Banda still on opposition benches has attracted a lot of comments within and outside the House.
Banda, who is Balaka North MP, wrote Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya earlier last week that he would maintain his seat on the opposition side while still maintaining his role as leader of UDF in the House.
UDF president Atupele Muluzi, who is also Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, told reporters on Friday at Parliament in Lilongwe that party spokesman Ken Ndanga was “preparing a statement” and that UDF will be holding a news conference on the matter.
In a statement released on Tuesday and made available to Nyasa Times signed by UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo, the UDF say there were consultation with various structures of the party that led to the engagement of its lawyers to give a legal opinion on the matter.
The statement further says no decision was made behind the back of the party leadership in parliament and that is why it took long for it to be implemented.
“The issue has been in the public domain well before the current sitting of parliament as a result of the consultation process that took place within the party structures,” reads the statement, adding: “The consultation process involved the National Executive Committee, members of parliament and also Regional and district levels during regional conferences in Lilongwe in the central region at Pacific Hotel, Balaka in the Eastern Region at Sun Village Hotel, and Blantyre at Grace Bandawe.”
UDF says after consultations, the party referred the matter to its lawyers for a legal opinion. The legal opinion found that the decision would not flout any law let alone section 65 of the Republican constitution as some quarters were suggesting.
“The rationale behind it is to make sure that there should not be a disconnect between the members of parliament and the party leader.
“The decision was therefore made in the spirit of national building by the party and not any individual person as it is being portrayed in the media,” the party said,
The UDF says it will continue to engage party structures on the matter.
However, UDF says as a party that believes in democracy, it will not stifle debate on the matter by members “as long as it is done with civility and within the party structures.”
The party says it will continue to conduct its activities to strengthen it especially at the grassroots level throughout the country.
“The leadership of the party remains accountable to the party membership and will continue to engage members on issues that will help build and also maintain unity.”
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, Muluzi and Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Clement Chiwaya who are UDF but not affected by the move.
Following the relocation, UDF on Thursday woke up to the reality of its decision by discovering that it has no voice and identity in Parliament.
For example, UDF was not on the schedule of opposition political parties to respond to the State of the Nation Address which President Peter Mutharika delivered on Tuesday because 11 of its MPs are now sitting on the government side.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :