Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda says he is ready with his ruling on Section 65 of the Republican Constitution but he is just awaiting the court’s conclusion of the matter.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) petitioned the speaker to declare vacant seats of Members of Parliament who have ditched the two parties and joined the ruling People’s Party (PP).
“My ruling on Section 65 is ready. I am just waiting for the conclusion of the matter which is in court,” he said.
The Speaker said Section 65 was a valid provision in the country’s constitution.
“I am fully aware that Section 65 is valid and it must be respected at all times, but at the same time it is important to adhere to procedures in the Standing Orders when dealing with such issues,” he said.
He said the matter was not tackled during the last meeting of parliament because the House was still waiting for the conclusion of the matter in court.
Lawyer representing the applicant Victor Gondwe said the case will not proceed on today because the Supreme Court has not yet heard a case in which the DPP appealed against a ruling that stopped them from joining the case.
“The judicial review case will be heard after the conclusion of the appeal case by the DPP. We are yet to be advised on the date when the court will hear the appeal case,” he said.
He said on the judicial review case, the court is supposed to make a decision on whether or not the Speaker was right to allow to hear and determine a petition when he himself had earlier on dismissed a similar one.
Chimunthu Banda rejected the initial petition by the parties on claims that they had no grounds.
He therefore asked the petitioners to file fresh applications with grounds and the parties obliged.
Section 65 stipulates that the Speaker shall declare vacant the seat of any member of the National Assembly who was, at the time of his or her election, a member of one political party represented in the National Assembly, other than by that member alone, but who has voluntarily ceased to be a member of that party or has joined another political party represented in the National Assembly, or association or organisation whose objective or activities are political in nature.
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