Eleven United Democratic Front (UDF) Members of Parliament (MPs) risk losing their seats for crossing the floor when the relocated to government benches in Parliament as Speaker of National Assembly has given them seven days to file defence.
Mzimba West MP, Harry Mkandawire (PP) petitioned Speaker Richard Msowoya to declare UDF Mps’ seats vacant on account that they had crossed the floor in contravention of Section 65 of the Constitution.
UDF has 11 MPs seated on the government side, increasing DPP’s numerical strength in the 193-member National Assembly to 63.
And Mkandawire in the petition has asked the Speaker to “immediately declare their respective constituencies vacant.”
However, Msowoya wants the UDF MPs to defend themselves within seven days before he makes his declaration on the matter.
The legislators are currently challenging Mkandawire’s petition at the High Court in Blantyre.
Lawyer Gabriel Chembezi said he applied for an injunction to restrain the Speaker from removing the UDF lawmakers from Parliamentary committees as well as from declaring their seats vacant.
He said Judge Esmie Chombo is handling the matter but asked to consolidate it with a case involving human rights activist Billy Mayaya who also petitioned the Speaker asking him to guarantee “orderliness and decorum” in the House by declaring vacant the seats of the 11 MPs.
The MPs not affected by the move are Balaka North legislator and the party’s former leader in the House Lucius Banda, party president Atupele Muluzi as well as Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Clement Chiwaya.
UDF moved to government benches to cement its working relationship with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) whose leader, Mutharika, roped into his Cabinet Muluzi.