Section 65 Speaker's business - Joyce Banda
Malawi President Joyce Banda on Monday made a U-turn on her stand regarding the implementation of Section 65 which deals with MPs who have crossed the floor.
Speaking at Sanjika Palace where she hosted a UK delegation led by London’s Minister for Africa and the United Nations Henry Bellingham, Banda said declaring vacant seats of MPs who cross the floor is the domain of the Speaker.
“It is up to the Speaker to declare seats vacant and we will go for an election,” said Banda.
She has recently come under a barrage of criticism when she said government may not be ready to find over K4 billion (about $16 million) if the Speaker of Parliament declares vacant seats of 41 legislators who are accused of crossing the floor.
Political analysts and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have accused President Banda of breaching the Constitution which she swore to defend on April 7, 2012 following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika.
Commenting on her 100 days celebrations, Banda denied that government withdrew money from State coffers.
Meanwhile, the UK has announced that it will be releasing an additional £25 million to Malawi which brings a total of UK support to Malawi to £58 million since April this year.
Banda said the support will go to the health sector, the farm input subsidy programme and the emergency cash/food programmes for the over 1.6 million people that are food insecure.
She described the UK’s support as timely. More than 1.6 million people will need food assistance in the coming months, according to a recent report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac). This represents a major increase from earlier this year when 202 000 people required food assistance.
Bellingham said he delivered a letter from UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell which announces the £25 million additional support to Malawi to help implement various economic reforms.
Said the envoy: “We also want to support Malawi’s long-term economic development through growth, trade and investment. We all want to see a thriving private sector and an environment that is conducive to investment.”
Bellingham also made a statement of intent that in three years, the UK will double its support to Malawi.
Malawi and the UK have normalised their diplomatic relationships dating back to the days of Dr. David Livingstone and have both appointed new high commissioners and are expected to exchange envoys soon.
The relations were strained in 2010 when the late Mutharika deported the then High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet. The new UK High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin will arrive in Lilongwe in September, announced Bellingham.