The High Court in Blantyre has dismissed an application by Forum for National Development (FND) seeking an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya from exercising his duties.
The ruling, which was delivered by Justice Mike Tembo in the chamber on Friday, follows an application of the injunction by FND through its lawyer Bob Chimkango to restrain the Speaker from exercising his role and restraining the office of the Speaker to allow Msowoya any privilege for resigning from main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and later joining the newly-formed United Transformation Movement (UTM).
FND argued that Msowoya crossed the floor, contrary to Section 65 (1) of the Constitution which stipulates that if a member of Parliament voluntarily leaves a party that sponsored him or her into Parliament to join another one represented in the House or a political grouping whose objectives are political, the legislator should be deemed to have crossed the floor and lose his or her seat.
But in his ruling on Friday, Tembo threw out FND’s application, saying it is highly contested whether Msowoya voluntarily left MCP and that the organisation has no sufficient interest in the matter.
Reads the ruling in part: “This court is, however, of the view that the political party to which the 1st defendant [Msowoya] belonged would be responsible to bring a challenge or his constituents…This court dismisses the present action with cost 1st defendant for the claimant’s [FND] lack of locus standi [sufficient interest].”
Tembo further said the matter would only be considered by the court if the National Assembly had a chance to consider the matter because Msowoya is answerable to Parliament.
In an interview yesterday, lawyer representing Msowoya Gustav Kaliwo expressed excitement over the ruling.
He said: “It was a matter that should not have been brought to court by FND because the power to declare a seat vacant rests in the Speaker..”
Reacting on the ruling, FND national coordinator Fryson Chodzi said they will take the matter to Parliament for intervention.
On July 24 this year, FND through a statement signed by Chodzi, gave Msowoya a seven-day ultimatum to voluntarily resign as Speaker of Parliament for defecting from MCP to UTM. But following the expiry date of the ultimatum, FND applied for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Speaker from exercising his duties.