DPP abandons Section 65 case
Former ruling party the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said the it will no longer pursue a legal case against Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda over the section 65 saga and will stop pressuring him on the matter.
The party says it now wants to concentrate on other equally important business including providing constructive analysis of the current budget statement.
However, the party says it may join as an interested party, any case against the speaker if the matter is brought to court but it will for the moment itself desist from the whole section 65 saga.
This follows earlier indications by the party that it was going to drag to court Chimunthu Banda for refusing to declare vacant seats of over 40 MPs who dumped the party to either join the People's Party (PP) or become independent while supporting the government of national unity.
Speaking in an interview, Leader of DPP in the House George Chaponda said the party learnt a bitter lesson while in a minority government and would desist from any attempts that may be construed as undermining the budget process or any government process in parliament.
"That issue is under the speaker. If he will decide to go to court for legal interpretation, we will join it as an interested party. We, however, are not going be pursuing any case against the speaker or pressuring him on the issue.
"We will also not do what the other people did when we were in a minority government by saying section 65 first and budget number two. We are going to give constructive criticism for the sake of transparency, but we are wondering why the government wants to be gagging us when we raise up issues," Chaponda said at parliament building.
He said the party will not concentrate on section 65 matter, but will offer government checks and balance on the budget.
DPP publicist Nicholas Dausi explained that the party arrived at the decision to avoid politicking by the ruling party which would use the battle for political gimmicks.
" T h e s e i s s u e s a r e psychological. We don't want the PP to start saying we are blocking the budget using section 65," Dausi said.
However, opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has presented 13 grounds to Chimunthu Banda as evidence that seats of Members of Parliament Alfred Mwechumu, Shamil Asibu and Henry Mpofu Shaba should be declared vacant for crossing the floor.
The party wants Mwechumu's seat declared vacant on grounds that he summoned chiefs and party supporters where he announced his move to PP, saying President Joyce Banda's father came from his constituency and as such he could not work with the government while remaining in UDF.
Other grounds are that he wrote the speaker that he has joined PP.
UDF says he voluntarily ceased to be a member of the party as he stopped associating with it in parliament.
UDF wants Asibu's seat declared vacant on grounds that he voluntarily ceased to be a member of UDF by announcing through the media that he had joined PP.
The party accuses him of bidding farewell to his constituency committee and announcing his involvement with PP.
"Despite numerous calls from the Secretary General, persuading him not to ditch the party that sponsored him into office and its effects, he has arrogantly said he is not afraid of Section 65 as he he is doing it with the blessings from his constituents.
"He wrote you Mr. Speaker on the same," stated a letter by the UDF.
The party also argues that Asibu stopped associating with it.
On Shaba, the letter among others says he voluntarily ceased to be a member of the UDF as he wrote the speaker on the same.
He joined DPP.
UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga confirmed in an interview that the party has petitioned the speaker and they were just waiting for a response.