Former Malawiâ€™s ruling DPP says it wants to see the issue of Section 65 concluded in the forthcoming sitting of Parliament, with the Speaker making a final determination on MPs deemed to have crossed the floor.
Commenting on the oppositionâ€™s expectations when the House reconvenes next Monday, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Parliament Dr. George Chaponda on Monday said indecision on the law that bars MPs to join other parties in Parliament has turned Malawiâ€™s democracy into a laughing stock.
He said other areas which need to be brought into the House include the bill on tripartite elections, response from government on complaints of non-payment to those who worked under the Public Works Programme, progress on the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (Fisp), the hunger situation, the arbitrary arrests and dismissals of individuals, as well as the Malawi-Tanzania border dispute.
â€œOn tripartite elections, we urge the Legal Affairs Committee to bring the report and let the House deliberate over it now since we are running out of time to hold the three elections in 2014,â€ said Chaponda, who served in the DPP Cabinet of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika. He was also leader of the House until April when DPP ceased to be in power after the death of Mutharika.
Chaponda said DPP is interested in the food security situation, arguing that only a few months ago, hunger, which has just resurfaced in the country, was a thing of the past while today the country has gone back to begging for food.
UDF needs brief on economy
UDF spokesperson on parliamentary affairs Mahmudu Lali said although the fiscal year has not yet hit the half-year mark, considering the current economic situation, the United Democratic Front (UDF) expects government to include a budget review on the agenda.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president John Tembo who is also leader of opposition in Parliament was not immediately available for comment.
But the partyâ€™s deputy whip in the House Lingson Belekanyama said his partyâ€™s priority would be to hear from government how it intends to address the food shortage in the country.
Said Belekanyama: â€œIt is not a secret that there is hunger in the country. Government is trying to do something to address the situation but we would want to know how much maize we have to bail out those who are affected. It would also be important to have a progress report on the subsidy and also the fuel situation.â€
He said the other important issue is on the local government polls so that Malawians should know if the country will have the elections in 2014.
On Section 65, on which the MCP has not petitioned the Speaker, he said the party will continue watching from afar the development since it believes that it already fought the battle for that Section during the DPP regime.
Leader of the House Henry Phoya could not immediately say what issues are expected to be brought into the House. He said he would wait for the outcome of the meeting of the Business Committee of Parliament this Tuesday morning to come up with the agenda.
Speaker says Sec 65 still in court
Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda said matters on Section 65 are still in court; hence, it will be difficult for him to say anything on the way forward.
During the last meeting of the House, DPP petitioned the Speaker, asking him to declare vacant seats of at least 40 legislators who were accused of having crossed the floor and joined the ruling Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) of President Joyce Banda on the government side.
Initially, the Speaker dismissed the petition on the basis of lack of evidence, but he was later served with a court injunction as he was about to make a second ruling after DPP provided fresh evidence on the petition.
At one point, DPP applied to join the battle for vacation of the injunction but were rejected before the matter was further taken to the Mzuzu High Court where the judge adjourned the case to mid-December.