United Democratic Front (UDF) says it will not take any action against its leader in Parliament, Lucius Banda, over his decision not to move to government benches.
When Parliament started meeting on Tuesday, all UDF members of Parliament (MPs) moved to government side in line with the request the party made to Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya.
However, Banda, who is MP for Balaka North, declined to move—arguing he could still support government while in the opposition benches.
UDF publicity secretary Ken Ndanga said in an interview yesterday the party will respect Banda’s decision and will not take any disciplinary action against him.
Said Ndanga: “As a party, we respect his decision because there could be other party members that share his views. We feel this matter can only be resolved if we sit down as a party and discuss it.”
He said Banda has been a loyal member of UDF for a long time and that it would be proper to keep him as long as it is necessary.
Said Ndanga: “As of now, he remains national executive committee [NEC] member and leader of the party in Parliament. So, nothing has changed.”
Asked how Banda will be leading party members who are on government side while he is in opposition, Ndanga said that would be guided by the Standing Orders in Parliament.
President Peter Mutharika opened the nine-week Budget Meeting of Parliament on Tuesday with a State of the Nation Address which opposition parties are expected to respond to.
Ndanga said Parliament will decide whether UDF is officially recognised as an opposition party fit to respond to the address.
The decision by the party to move to government benches revealed cracks within the UDF camp.
In a survey involving 12 UDF MPs, The Nation learnt that two had no problems with moving while the rest were either against the idea or said they would follow the party decision.