Civil rights activist, Rafiq Hajat who is executive director for Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) has said the absence of floor crossing by party-sponsored parliamentarians in the just-ended Parliament session means the country’s democracy has matured.
Speaking in an interview last week, Hajat said though there are several independent parliamentarians who have announced their allegiance to political parties, the behaviour displayed by parliamentarians who won on party tickets is commendable.
“The fact that no party-sponsored parliamentarian has crossed the floor in the House means two things: loyalty to their parties and respect for the electorate who voted for them,” said Hajat.
He said the development also means parliamentarians are starting to respect Section 65 of the Constitution which mandates the Speaker to declare the seat of any parliamentarian who crosses the floor vacant.
But political scientist Henry Chingaipe has said though party-sponsored parliamentarians are trying to respect the wishes of voters, they are afraid of Section 65.
“If they cross the floor, obviously, they become casualties as the Speaker [Richard Msowoya] would exercise his power to show that he is a different Speaker. For independent parliamentarians, the law allows them to behave like that,” said Chingaipe.
Recently, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) said they will stand strong on Section 65 to ensure that it is implemented to prevent their MPs from crossing the floor.