t feels like déjà vu
. Section 65 is back to haunt us.
But first things first. Sometimes it feels really difficult to sympathise with the DPP. Of course the former ruling party, through its very frank Secretary General Elias Wakuda Kamanga, did seek atonement for the aberrant and abhorrent manner these folks carried themselves with when they thought they owned the country. True, some people would want to blame that impunity on you know who.
But these guys were so full of themselves that one almost shouts 'Eureka! It's pay-back time!' whenever they are being pushed to a corner.
Take the issue of Section 65 for instance. We all know DPP survived by ignoring the dreaded anti-defection law, the courts and all voices of reason. We know the late President Mutharika played everyone up by half-heartedly promising he would deal with Section 65 after dispensing with the budget only to prologue Parliament.
Without its arrogance towards the Constitution as a whole and Section 65 in particular, the DPP government was as good as dead. Apart from the six MPs that went to Parliament via by-elections the whole DPP parliamentary caucus comprised journeymen. All DPP MPs, save the six, were frauds. The President himself, if truth be told, was a fraud. These people were in power through trickery. DPP was made into a pseudo-ruling party without contesting any election.
But somehow the UDF had soiled itself too much that almost every Malawian clapped hands when Bingu left the party that made him president to found the DPP. The nation conveniently looked the other way as the Constitution was being gang raped. The former ruling party, joined by the main opposition MCP, didn’t make their case any better when they decided to abuse their parliamentary numbers to make Bingu and his administration dance to a tuneless dance. The rest, as they say, is history; the UDF and MCP were adequately rewarded at the polls. They got their just deserts!
But, be that as it may, despite the DPP's chequered past Section 65 is part of our laws and must be enforced and respected. Dreaded as it may seem the principle behind this law is quite noble. Although quality of an individual is vital, parties play a significant role in the electability of a candidate. It is therefore unfair to the voter for an MP to choose which party to belong to after the vote is already cast.
The same applies to those who enter Parliament as independents. There could be some voters who genuinely don’t see anything good in all the available political parties. They would rather cast a vote for someone who agrees with them by not associating with any of the contesting parties. It is cheating too for independents to begin joining parties while already in Parliament.
These nomadic MPs have a tired refrain that they have consulted their constituents who approved of their decisions. It may be impractical of course to expect MPs to consult all those who voted for them on their decisions because they don’t know who actually voted for them anyway. The only foolproof 'consultation' therefore is to go back to the voters to seek fresh mandate. Why MPs fear to renew their mandate while at the same time claiming they have consulted widely beats me. If you have consulted and the voters have approved of your decision why waste everybody's time by seeking injunctions in court? Why not just go down to the voters who have already approved of your switching sides anyway?
But we know these hunter-gatherer MPs seek solace in the courts because they aren’t sure how the voters will react to their individualistic decisions because they didn’t consult them in the first place.
Brown Mpinganjira, PP's moneyman, made an interesting observation this other day. It’s his considered opinion that holding over 100 by-elections less than two months before the next elections is a needless expense. That is very true for a country where the coffers are always Sahara-dry they have to be constantly replenished by dollars from Washington, pound sterling from London or Euros from Brussels. But, hey, BJ should know that democracy has never been known to come cheap. Ask the Greeks where the experiment begun!
But it may interest good ol' BJ to know that there was actually a less expensive way of avoiding all this needless brouhaha. Nobody needed to shift from anywhere in order to profess their love and support for Abiti. You don’t need to belong to party A or B in order to support good policies of government. I know parties always hold caucuses before any crucial vote but the herd mentality being practised in our Parliament isn’t progressive. A party may have a position on a particular issue but if an MP has other ideas it isn’t treason to break ranks. After all despite belonging to particular blocks in the august House individual MPs have to have in mind needs of their real bosses: the voters.
Henry Chimunthu Banda's hands must be freed. The Speaker has to crack the whip. Bingu's descent to the exclusive club of democratic tyrants didn’t come overnight. It started little by little. One sure one-way ticket to dictatorship is ignoring dictates of the law.
We were clapping hands when Bingu was flushing the rule of law down the toilet because we thought it was convenient to do so. Raphael Tenthani
We were clapping hands when Bingu was flushing the rule of law down the toilet because we thought it was convenient to do so. But look at what we ended up with? Mama Joyce must not be allowed such luxury. We have to always hold her feet to the fire. We lost a potentially good president to dictatorship because we tolerated impunity. The wounds are so fresh we can’t afford the same mistake this quickly.