Malawiâ€™s Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda is Friday morning expected to make a fresh ruling on MPs deemed to have contravened Section 65 of the Constitution which regulates crossing of the floor.
The ruling follows new communication from the petitioners, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who provided evidence of “crossing the floor” later Thursday as demanded by the Speaker in his earlier ruling that dismissed the initial petition.
Thursday morning, DPP MPs led by their leader in Parliament Dr George Chaponda, walked out of the House in protest to the Speakerâ€™s decision that dismissed the partyâ€™s petition to have seats of about 40 of its MPs declared vacant for crossing the floor to the governing Peopleâ€™s Party (PP).
The Speakerâ€™s ruling instantly attracted drama and anger from the DPP benches, leading to Mzimba Hora MP the Reverend Christopher Ngwira being sent out of the Chamber after he described the Speakerâ€™s ruling as â€˜emptyâ€™.
The DPP regrouped in a caucus that lasted about one hour and decided to take the matter to court.
“It seems the Speaker has turned himself into a judge and would want to start interpreting the law which is not his duty,” said DPP spokesperson and Mwanza Central MP Nicholas Dausi in an interview.
And speaking after the fresh submissions, Dausi said DPP decided to write the Speaker again to remind him that he already has evidence with him based on the letters which the concerned members wrote to his office when they were joining PP.
“We have written him reminding him that maybe he has forgotten that on May 24, he read out the names of those who had written him. Secondly, we have also told him that even the party has letters from people who left the party. In the new evidence, we have also attached the letters that as a party we received,” said Dausi.
But commenting on the Speakerâ€™s earlier ruling, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president John-Gift Mwakhwawa said since the Speaker was acting on a petition presented to him, and not on his own mandate, he was right to have made the decision if the allegation that the petition lacked evidence is true.
Said Mwakhwawa: “It is not enough to simply allege that so and so crossed the floor. It is a matter of domesticating analytically how the floor was crossed. We hope the Speaker has to be transparent enough to show there was no evidence.
“Section 65 is a valid section in the Constitution and must be applied where applicable. For as long as Malawians choose to have it, is will be there and it is not a human right.”
DPP legislators returned into the Chamber after tea break when proceedings continued with debate on the 2012/13 national budget.