Malawians are reportedly breathing with a sigh of relief
after the opposition-led parliament passed President Bingu Wa Mutharika's
government-proposed the $1.6 billion budget.
The government had blamed the opposition for deliberately stalling government
developmental efforts by refusing to pass the budget. Talks on passing the budget
stalled after opposition parties and President Mutharika's government clashed
over section 65 of the constitution. Mustapha Hussein is a political science
professor at the University of Malawi Chancellor College in Zomba. He tells
reporter Peter Clottey that Malawians are expressing optimism after the passing
of the budget.
think it is a sigh if relief and people are quite optimistic and very happy
because now they are assured that government business and development
activities would be progressing as was expected," Hussein noted.
He said the opposition members had options
that informed their decision to approve the budget despite the protracted
are several schools of thought. First, others were suggesting that since 2009
is an election year, now if the budget is not passed probably the government
would use that as an excuse not to hold these elections. So, for fear of not
holding the elections in 2009, which probably the opposition is likely to win,
it has influenced the desire to pass the budget. And secondly because of what
was referred to as the political impasse, the clergy tried to mediate and it
was agreed or it was proposed that the issue of the budget should concurrently
be tackled together with section 65," he said.
said the clergy played a significant role in resolving the political impasse
between President Mutharika's government and opposition parties.
their planning it was proposed that soon after the issue of the budget or once
the budget has been approved, then the issue of section 65 should be tackled,"
Hussein pointed out.
said the opposition would be putting pressure on the speaker of parliament to
have section 65 implemented.
they (opposition) have maintained that although the elections are coming soon
and they will be coming in 2009, they would still want the issue of section 65
tackled. And the main argument is that in so doing, they will be maintaining
the rule of law and constitutionalism would be complied with or the spirit of
constitutionalism would be upheld. So, that is their main argument," he said.
said President Mutharika's government seems to be content with the approval of
the budget Thursday.
are yet to see the government's overwhelming reaction, but indications have
shown that the government is happy and is willing to meet the demands of the
opposition. There are rumors that a memorandum of understanding that emphasizes
the need to tackle the issue of section 65 soon after the budget has been
signed," Hussein noted.
clergy recently held separate meetings with both the government and the
opposition aimed at resolving the political impasse, which was preventing the
approval of the budget.
the 15th of June 2007, the Malawi Supreme Court granted powers to the Speaker
of the national assembly to declare vacant seats of MPs (members of parliament)
who defected from their parties. In this ruling, Chief Justice Unyolo pointed
out that the Speaker of the national assembly could use a controversial provision
to expel any MP who changed party affiliation. The judge also said that the
Court's position is that section 65 is valid because it was consistent with
other provisions of the constitution.
have reacted differently on this issue. Some still maintain that this
constitutional provision needs to be revisited and not used this time while
some argue that the speaker needs to use it during the budget sitting of
parliament. Opposition United Democratic Front party (UDF) and the Malawi
Congress Party (MCP) were delighted with the ruling.