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Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Let us sober up when dealing with Section 65
By The Daily Times - 25 June 2007 - 09:23:38

It is without denying that the recent ruling on the validity Section 65 by the Supreme Court has thrown the National Assembly into turmoil with almost every member looking at ways of getting even with another.

Initially, it was the opposition parties that celebrated the ruling, thinking and believing they were exclusive beneficiaries of the landmark ruling but a press briefing on Friday by the Democratic Progressive Party has shown that probably the opposition celebrated too soon. The DPP, which everybody thought would be the greatest victim of the court ruling, seems to see some gains, although difficult to appreciate by those outside the party.

In the middle of all this, the House is expected to resume the budget sitting after it went on recess following the death of First Lady Ethel Mutharika. And Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is expected to present his budget statement on the same Friday. But this is the same Friday some opposition parties are pushing Speaker Louis Chimango to declare vacant seats of those affected by the Section 65 ruling. How the two will go side by side is the million-dollar question that calls for sobriety and patience coupled with high degree of national interest in the mind.

And true to this, there have been calls that it would be better if the Speaker took his time before petitioning the affected MPs but again, it seems, it is too late as the Speaker has already dispatched the petitions to those targeted like Leader of the House Henry Chimunthu Banda. We hear all three speakers have also been targeted by some parties as possible victims of Section 65. There is real trouble ahead if we do not tread carefully.

Although all this apparent madness involves only one arm of government, the legislature, the chaos there has all the effect of spreading across the three arms of government, especially the executive. In fact, if we do not handle the matter with mature and sober minds, the matter has the potential of bringing government business to a complete halt. And when that happens, we will all be losers. We will go down the annals of history as people who let emotions to prevail over reason and lost all.

For the record, we just want to give to a slice of the loss the country is set to suffer if we mishandle emotions in Parliament starting this Friday. Firstly, we will have no budget because the moment seats are declared vacant, the whole House would be in turmoil with those affected battling for survival in courts and their parties playing revenge. The House will literally come to a stand still yet we are all looking up to it for the nation’s direction, economically and otherwise.

By now, all parties in the National Assembly should know that it is not automatic that they would claim exclusive gains from the ruling and the best they can do under such circumstances is to take their time and read their every move carefully, all this time considering what impact it may have on the nation as a whole.

Although the Supreme Court said crossing the floor gives a raw deal to sponsoring parties and constituents, apparently, it is the parties that are crying the loudest and it is tempting to think every move in line with the ruling party is politically motivated. Nobody, so far, has championed the interests of constituents yet these are the people that will suffer the most of Parliament creates a national crisis. This is why we are praying for sobriety, maturity and patriotism when handling the issue. We have to consider that we are firstly Malawians and the rest come secondary.

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