Hours after opposition UDF national chairperson Atupele Muluzi resigned from the Malawi Cabinet, his party also abandoned government in Parliament to join the opposition benches.
Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda made the announcement soon after the House resumed its meeting Monday afternoon when he also formally announced that 12 MPs have abandoned the Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) to rejoin the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the opposition.
Chimunthu Banda also talked about Mchinji West MP Theresa Mwale who has declared herself independent from the government side.
Conspicuously missing on the list was former Cabinet minister Goodall Gondwe who, during the last meeting, was on the opposition side, but this time he was seen sitting on the government benches.
Said Chimunthu Banda: â€œIn case you have questions on why some members have not been mentioned, my office only works on names whose request has been provided.â€
In an interview later in the afternoon, Leader of the House Henry Phoya said: â€œAs government, we are viewing these movements as part of the current climate on the political front and that there will come a time people will learn to apply principle in their political behaviour.â€
With the changes, government had 81 MPs on the seating plan, which included two Alliance for Democracy (Aford) MPsâ€”Khwauli Msiska and Enock Chihanaâ€”against the oppositionâ€™s 107 in the 193 strong House.
On the UDF side, it was not yet clear on whether Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management Ibrahim Matola would join his colleagues in the opposition as he was not in the House whereas Mangochi South Eastâ€™s MP Alfred Mwechumu and Mangochi South Westâ€™s Shamir Asibu remained on the government side.
In an interview later, DPP acting president Peter Mutharika said the coming of UDF and the other 12 MPs would strengthen the opposition.
The House passed one loan authorisation bill which seeks to authorise government to borrow US$10 million (almost K3 billion) from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea) for irrigation projects in Mangochi and Nkhata Bay which are part of governmentâ€™s Green Belt Initiative.