The controversial Section 65 of the Constitution that restricts crossing of the floor in Parliament among MPs is back on the scene.
It is among topics under discussion at the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Second All-inclusive Stakeholdersâ€™ Conference in Blantyre.
Blantyre Catholic Archdiocese Auxilliary Bishop Montfort Stima opened the two-day conference on Tuesday, where almost all political parties, including the ruling Peopleâ€™s Party (PP), the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)â€”which shunned the first conference in March this year before the death of the late president Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€”attended.
Former minister of Education in the DPP administration, Dr. George Chaponda, represented his party whereas PP was represented by Minister of Lands and Housing Henry Phoya and Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara.
Stima said the meeting seeks to develop key resolutions on the implementation of Section 65 and whether the section is well couched to suit operations of democracy or not.
He said to-date, there are still challenges in the application of the section despite calls from the public to apply the law.
Said Stima: “We will not mince words here as PAC. These constitutional provisions have a bearing on the conduct of our honourable members. We have seen how [some of] our politicians can shift from one party to another party without thorough consultations with their constituents.
“The defections remain a destabilising factor in Malawiâ€™s political equation. The exodus we continue to see in this country when leadership has changed remains a cause of concern.”
He said the repealed Section 64, popularly known as the Recall Provision which empowered constituents to call back non-performing MPs, is another provision set to be discussed to find out if it has a place in the Constitution.
Stima, who is chairperson of the conference, said participants would also discuss presidential powers and PACâ€™s position to be taken on 2014 tripartite elections.
He said: “[We will also discuss the] impact of devaluation. What message can we send to the countryâ€™s leadership?”
A political analyst, Dr. Augustine Magolowondo who attended the conference, said the agenda looks simple, but critical. He said he looks forward to seeing participants discuss the issues soberly.
Magolowondo, for example, wondered which administration would be strong enough to implement Section 65.
In an interview on the sidelines of the conference, Kasambara said the Joyce Banda administration respects freedom of association and opinion and encourages Malawians to share ideas at different forums such as the PAC conference.
He said the PP government is ready to respond to issues raised at the conference.
Dr. Blessings Chinsinga, an associate professor of political science at Chancellor College, said in his presentation titled â€˜Political Assessment from the Smooth Transitionâ€™ that Malawi is suffering from severe lack of transformation.
He said for all their failures, the United Democratic Front (UDF) blamed the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) blamed UDF and PP is now blaming DPP. He said parties need not do that.
Chinsinga observed that there also seems to be “a serious lack of demand and supply of leadership”; hence, leadership is able to get away with mediocrity.
Conference resolutions will be passed to the PP administration for action.
Other topics under discussion include â€˜Constitutionalism Beyond 2012â€™ by associate professor of law Edge Kanyongolo also of Chancellor College and â€˜The Impact of Devaluationâ€™ by Professor Matthews Chikaonda, group chief executive officer of Press Corporation Limited (PCL).