Monday, May 14, 2007

Conditions for cabinet casualties

Parent political parties for casualties of Thursday’s Cabinet reshuffle the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Republican Party (RP) have said they will not automatically take back the fired ministers, Jaffalie Mussa and Bazuka Mhango.

President Bingu wa Mutharika dropped Mussa as Ministers of Sports and Culture and Mhango as Minister of Justice from his increased 42-member Cabinet Thursday replacing them with Khumbo Kachale and Henry Phoya, respectively.

While in government the two remained members of their sponsoring parties---UDF and RP.

UDF spokesperson Sam Mpasu said Mussa had to go through a process of evaluation before he could be accepted back into UDF.

“You see, UDF did not remove him. It was him who made a decision to leave UDF and join the DPP. But the circumstances have now changed for him. As a party, we have our own interests. We don’t want to have Trojan horses people who say they are UDF today and they are not tomorrow.

“If he expresses interest to join the party, then he will go through the normal process where we have to evaluate him just like any person, who wants to join a party,” Mpasu said.

The UDF spokesperson, however, said his party has always kept an open-door policy whereby those who want to leave the party are free to do so and those who want to join it also do so.

But RP spokesperson Effie Somanje said the party would only accept Mhango back if he came to the party with one mind of serving it.

“In the last sitting of Parliament, Mhango said RP does not exist. It had to take Deputy Speaker Mcheka Chilenje-Nkhoma to defend the party. What do you make out of that person?” she asked.

Somanje said the party does not have problems with Mhango coming back if he first reaffirms his loyalty to it.

Gwanda Chakuamba, President of New Republican Party (NRP), an RP splinter group, said the party would not rush to offer amnesty to Mhango as there is Section 65 in court which would determine the fate of MPs deemed to have crossed the floor in Parliament.

“They should not rush in joining their former parties. Let them wait for the ruling on Section 65. We can only take them back after the ruling,” he said.

The Supreme Court of Appeal will on June 4 rule on Section 65. The ruling will determine if those MPs who joined other parties crossed the floor.

In the reshuffle, Mutharika has added nine new faces in the Cabinet, increasing it to 42.

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