41 MPs get stop order on Sec 65
By DICKSON KASHOTI - 29 June 2007 - 16:49:13
Over 40 legislators Thursday obtained a High Court injunction in Lilongwe restraining Speaker of Parliament Louis Chimango from declaring their seats vacant for crossing the floor.
The development came barely hours before the speaker was scheduled to resume the national budget sitting where Chimango was expected rule on Section 65.
UDF Zomba MP Yunus Mussa applied to the court for an exparte injuction—one that is obtained without the other party in the case being present—against the state and the speaker of the National Assembly as respondents and himself as an applicant.
Yunus was represented by three legal firms, Knights and Knights, Raymond and Hughes and Lloyds and Associates.
The injunction was granted by the court.
This means Chimango would not be able to declare the seats of the 41 members of Parliament vacant until the court hears the matter or the injunction is vacated by the same court.
But lawyer Fahad Assani for the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) , the party that petitioned the speaker to declare 38 of the seats vacant, said late last night that his team was working overnight to have the injunction lifted by Thursday.
“The Speaker should be given his freedom to exercise his duties. This injunction is unreasonable and vexatious, it has been obtained to annoy some people, it has no substance at all,” Assani said.
Titus Mvalo, lawyer for the largest party in parliament, Malawi Congress Party
(MCP) said he could not answer any questions on the issue because he was locked up in a meeting.
Chimango refused to make any comment on the matter, saying he has not seen the injunction and referred the matter to Parliament’s legal advisor Jane Ansah who is also the Attorney General but she could not be reached on her mobile phone number.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Henry Phoya, who is also legal advisor of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), could not say what the MPs
would do should the court lift the injunction today as said by Assani.
Says the injunction in part: “It is ordered that the respondent whether by themselves and or through their servants and or agents or howsoever be and are hereby restrained from proceeding to carry into effect his decision of petitioning the applicant (and the 40 others listed in the schedule) in relation to allegations of crossing the floor and requiring of the applicants to make response thereto until the determination of this matter and all matters on the subject which are still in the court or until a further order of court.
Yunus Mussa, the applicant could not be reached for comment as his mobile phones went unswered but the second applicant is Uladi Mussa, former minister of agriculture who is no w struggling to register his own party after he was booted out of the DPP.
Jaffalie Mussa, former minister of youth, sports and culture does not appear on the list although the UDF has decided to maintain him on the list of MPs petitioned to have their seats vacant despite the fact that he returned to the party after losing his cabinet post a month ago.
The UDF, in the petition argues that Mussa was elected on UDF ticket in 2004, appointed cabinet minister, refused to come out of government when
President Bingu wa Mutharika resigned from the UDF, stopped attending UDF functions and caucuses,
distributed DPP materials in his constituency and chucked out UDF functionaries and wore DPP colours at the launch of DPP in Lilongwe’s Area 12 at the DPP headquarters.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is this afternoon at 2pm scheduled to present the national budget to the 193-strong House despite petitions to have some 90 seats declared vacant on account of crossing the floor and the court injunction restraining
the Speaker from declaring the seats vacant.
The current budget ends on July 31. MPs failed to approve the budget for the new financial year because of the death of First Lady Ethel Mutharika on
May 28 and the subsequent declaration of a month of national mourning by the state.