LILONGWE--Dust refuses to settle over the legal status of Malawi lawmakers who switched parties represented in parliament.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have asked the speaker of parliament to rule against MPs who dumped their parties that sponsored their 2009 parliamentary bid.
Voice Mhone, chairperson of the Council for Non-Governmental Organisations, told a National Consultative Conference (NCC) in Lilongwe that it was important that the country’s constitution was respected by enforcing the controversial Section 65 which empowers the speaker of the National Assembly to declare vacant seats of MPs who cross the floor.
“Failure to implement the constitutional requirements makes elections worthless,” he said pointing out that voters where already given a raw deal when the United Democratic Front-led government (1994-2004) removed the recall provision under Section 64 which empowered voters to recall their legislative representatives if they thought they were not performing to their expectation.
“In orders for elections to be meaningful and for voters to have total confidence in their parliamentary representatives both Section 64 must be brought back and Section 65 must be applied unsparingly,” he said.
While Section 64 was repealed under the UDF regime, the application of Section 65 rode on the wave of sympathy when a dominant opposition tried to torpedo Pres Bingu wa Mutharika’s minority government after he enticed opposition MPs to join his newly formed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after he unceremoniously ditched the UDF in 2005.
History repeated itself this year when People’s Party president Joyce Banda assumed power after the death of Mutharika in April. PP, formed after Banda was expelled in 2010 from the DPP, didn’t have its own elected MPs.
“There was no evidence that these MPs consulted the voters in their constituencies before moving from their parties to the new party in power,” Aloisious Nthenda of the Malawi Electoral Support Network told the NCC.
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.