Delegates to the consultative meeting with the Malawi Electoral Commissioners (MEC) recently recommended that the electoral body should take over the implementation powers of the controversial Section 65 of the Republic of Malawi Constitution.
Chancellor College based political scientist Blessings Chinsinga revealed this today, saying delegates were of the views that National Assembly Speakers in the three regimes of Bakili Muluzi, Bingu wa Mutharika and now Joyce Banda have disappointed Malawians by their failure to implement the section.
“Speakers are politicians who could be partisan in the implementation of the section. They belong to a particular political party that could be an interested party at that given time, hence affecting their judgment in the implementation of the section,” Chinsinga told a local radio station today.
Chinsinga also observed that speakers are always under the pressure from the executive arm of government, especially if the arm is the victim.
Implementation of Section 65 of the Constitution has remained controversial in Malawi since the attainment of democracy in 1993. Up to date, Fred Nseula and Brown Mpinganjira remained the only victims of the section, with the rest of others managing to elude it through court injunctions.
During the last sitting of parliament, Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda failed to make a ruling on the petition by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the piece of legislation, arguing the DPP did not furnished him evidence substantiating its allegation.
The DPP petitioned Chimunthu Banda asking him to declare vacant seats of over 40 MPs that have ditched the party and joined the ruling Peoples Party (PP), following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, which subsequently meant the fall out of Government of the DPP.
However, political scientist Gerald Chigona described the speaker’s ruling as ridiculous. Chimunthu Banda again failed to rule on the controversial section after a court injunction obtained by Ntcheu West MP Chikumbutso John Hiwa at the Lilongwe High Court was served on his desk.
The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and other legal experts described the injunction as unfortunate.
PAC Publicist Reverend Maurice Munthali said they will continue advocating for the application of the section by the speaker. And legal expert Garton Kamchezera had this to say: “The injunction is another sad episode in the country’s constitutional history. Section 65 is clear, and I would like to believe that the injunction is only meant to buy time.”
At a public debate organised by Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) on the section, the Executive Director of Women and Law Society of Southern Africa (Wilsa) Malawi Chapter Seodi White said the ruling Peoples Party (PP) of President Joyce Banda should prove its claims that it is a constitutional adhering government by letting Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda invoke Section 65 of the Constitution against parliamentarians deemed to have crossed the floor.
White was directly responding to the PP Deputy Publicist Ken Nsonda who had claimed that his party has come to clear filthy left behind by the DPP, at a live debate on Section 65 on Tuesday night.
The section also wrecked havoc during the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s 2004-2009 term when the opposition United Democratic front (UDF) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) formed a majority block to hold the passing of the national budget against the section.
This forced the civil society organisation to hold vigils at parliament to force the opposition, then in majority, to soften their stand. During the Bakili Muluzi regime, the section saw the firing of Fred Nseula.
Brown Mpinganjira, former Mulanje Central parliamentarian also experienced the bitter bite of the section when he had formed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was meant to oppose Muluzi’s third term and open tern bids.