Tuesday, April 24, 2007

OF SECTION 65, INVESTORS AND BINGU’S IDEA TO APPEAL.

OF SECTION 65, INVESTORS AND BINGU’S IDEA TO APPEAL. By Pearson Nkhoma­;1

The government is at it again. It wants to seek another second [but I think a third] opinion and interpretation on Section 65. The government sees that it ‘lost’ on first opinion and second opinion for interpretations of Section 65. The court clearly asserted that the plea for appeal had no legal basis since there were no parties involved and no right is infringed. Bingu just wanted to seek interpretations of the Section. It is, however, unbelievable to see how the government is handling this issue taking into account that the president just wanted to seek interpretations of Sec 65. The appeal clearly shows that the president had already made interpretations of the Section before he went to court for the interpretations of the Section.

I base my argument with revelations that the president is appealing against the court ruling. On the first hand, this clearly shows that the president has vested interest in this section and would want the court to interpret it according to his vested interest. Secondly, it is a pity to note that the same president who swore to defend the constitution is now fighting tooth and nail to bring it down because of his personal needs.

It should clearly be indicated here that the president cannot defend this Section since he is more interested to defend the survival of his personal party-DPP, rather than the constitution contents. He is therefore prepared to do all things that would achieve that. Survival of his property means a lot to him than survival of chronically poor Malawians. Just like many other politicians don’t represent people. History and experience with constitution ammendments clearly prove that MPs and most other politicians don’t solist views of their constituencies they claim to represent on constitution amendments. They are dictated by party politics and personal interests. A very good example is the repeal of ‘Recall Provission’ in 1995, Sec 83 and this same Sec 65.this follows that there is a high possibity for politicians to misreprtesent views of Malawians on Constitution amendments and appeals.

This clearly shows that Bingu, just like most other politicians, is no interested in representing the many Malawians who voted him into power. As a result his appeal against the interpretation of a Section he swore to protect cannot be looked at with good faith.
I’m saying Bingu has no public interest at heart in this section from recent revelations that investors are now shunning Malawi because of this nonsense political tensions that Section 65 is bringing with party politics being the driver behind the appeal. Shunning of investors because of this political tension infringes on people’s rights like right to development, and other economic activities. However, Bingu is still planning to go ahead with the appeal, clearly chasing donors. This is because politicians tend to forget that Malawians are supreme rulers and they [politicians] are only representatives of many Malawians.

This is one reason why it can be asserted that party politics is the manipulator behind Bingu’s idea to appeal to the interpretations of Section 65 than political justice for many Malawians leaving in chronic poverty. In addition, Sec 65 was introduced in 2001 to get lid with MPs who were running away from UDF prior to 3rd term bill. Some of the MPs who were part of the proponents of Sec 65 in 2001 are part of the DPP. The tooth they introduced is now about to show them the power.

Bingu must be reminded that political motivated Constitutional interpretations and amendments just make popular politicians unpopular in the wrong run-ndipo Munthu amatha ngati makatani. Bakili Muluzi is a good witness to this with reference to his unpopular 3rd and open term bills. It is therefore wrong for Bingu and other politicians to be thinking that interpretation of sec 65, with political values attached, is making them any popular. This is also bad, apart from democracy, for our good Bingu who undemocratically, has declared that whether one likes it or not, in DPP or opposition, he is going to run for presidential elections in 2009.

It is also a pity to realize that interpretation of the constitution by judges is taken as ‘a tit for tat’ game because of the salary issue. This argument is far from legal prescriptions and it is not the first time judges have been accused of such. In 2001 some judges were even impeached by Parliament for ruling against the government and were referred as judges for opposition. History is repeating itself.

However, if Moya’s argument is valid and in good faith, I’m the view that the best thing Moya should do is suggest the recalling of Sec 64-the Recall Provision, which was repealed in 1994. This will show that Moya is truly representing the people. Further more, the Recall Provision will also empower local people who MPs represent. Of section 64, people will have the mandate to tell the speaker to declare seat of their MP vacant if they feel the MP has crossed the flow. MPs are not political party representatives, but they represent local people. It follows that local Malawians must therefore be empowered to determine if they want there MP cross the flow and join another party or not, of course after a referendum-democracy is not cheap. I’m saying this because sometimes local people would want their MP associate himself or herself to another party which has good agendas from the his/her political party to address their needs better, and it is therefore unfortunate to take away this representation right from the local people, who democratically have supreme mandate. It is now very unfortunate to note that MPs prioritize survival of their political parties and not people who voted them into office.

All in all, Bingu need not fear anything from this interpretation because application of Section 65 affect almost all parties in parliament apart from parties like PPM and RP.

It is therefore imperative for all concerned civil societies, NGO and all Malawians who are working hard to consolidate our democracy to find means so that the Constitution is not politically tampered with. Malawians should also not allow judges being accused of politicking when they rule against the government side. The Executive Arm should learn the principle of separation of power, which is there among different arm of government.

The appeal Bingu is doing will also spend a lot of taxpayers’ money which can be used to buy food and medicines for starving Malawians. The court, as a said above, clearly asserted that the plea for appeal had no legal basis since there were no parties involved. Bingu just wanted to seek interpretations of Section 65, and no right is infringed because of the ruling. This must really be taken as victory for democracy, let us forge into development and not politicking, otsamangotcheranatcherana ndale. Politics is not ndale as it is in our context.

Political amendments dilute the constitution as a hall. In democracy, the constitution is supreme law and must be respected and treated as such. This will help avoid constitutional provisions that would only satisfy needs of few greedy politicians and not local people who are supreme rulers.

In view of this, MPs need to learn and table significant bills like the abolishment of death penalty which infringes on other provisions like life and dignity. I therefore urge politicians to respect the rule of law, supreme law, our constitution and the supreme rulers-local people.

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