Written by CHADUWA DHUMAKUDE & YAMIKANI SIMUTOWE
LILONGWE—Section 65 of the Malawi Constitution took its course Tuesday morning when Speaker of the House Henry Chimunthu Banda declared the seat of Henry Mpofu Shaba of Blantyre Bangwe vacant for crossing the floor.
Shaba was accused of crossing the floor from opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Section 65.–(1) stipulates that "the Speaker shall declare vacant the seat of any member of the National Assembly who was, at the time of his or her election, a member of one political party represented in the National Assembly, other than by that member alone but who has voluntarily ceased to be a member of that party and has joined another political party represented in the National Assembly."
UDF petitioned the Speaker to declare vacant all seats of its MPs including Ibrahim Matola, Alfred Mwachumu and Shamil Asibu who are still sitting on the government side. The party submitted the petitions in November last year through their former secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala.
However the others have been spared, thanks to a High Court injunction they obtained Monday to prevent the Speaker from throwing them out of the House.
Meanwhile, Shaba argues that he voluntarily resigned from UDF and joined the ruling party. It's unclear if he is going to challenge the ruling.
Earlier, the Speaker told the House that he would only make a ruling on fresh petitions from UDF while the DPP petitions were still in court in Mzuzu.
DPP petitioned the Speaker to declare vacant seats of about 40 MPs who joined the ruling People’s Party (PP) but some MPs obtained an injunction restraining the Speaker from doing so. As of now, most of the MPs concerned have returned to DPP.
(c) The Maravi Post 2013