Opposition political parties are set to control Parliament after official results indicated that they have the numerical strength to frustrate government business, but commentators have warned against the possibility.
Official results for the parliamentary election indicate that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won 50 seats against Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) 48 while People’s Party (PP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) have 26 and 14 seats respectively.
This means opposition political parties have the numerical strength to control Parliament and could successfully put up candidates for Speaker and deputies.
However, political analyst Mustafa Hussein has warned that the current situation is reminiscent of the period from 2004 to 2009 when the opposition used numbers to frustrate policies of the Executive.
He said even if independent candidates, who total 52, opt to become backbenchers, opposition would still have the strength to control the House.
“The underlying principle is that the next Parliament will be of negotiations and compromise. Opposition cannot afford to frustrate government, there’s a need for great improvement in service delivery and public sector which needs urgent attention,” Hussein said.
Political and social commentator Chris Chisoni said the next Parliament should avoid political party machinations, which led to 77 percent non-retention of MPs in 2009.
He said various stakeholders should request for the goodwill of political parties in the implementation of Section 65, which checks against crossing the floor in Parliament.
In his inaugural speech, President Peter Mutharika hinted that his party would not allow political defections because Malawians were tired of such behaviour as evidenced by the large number of MPs who have not returned to Parliament.
Political parties are currently strategising on the position of Speaker, but have refused to disclose their plans due to unconfirmed reports that DPP is seeking a coalition with one of the opposition parties.