There was drama in Parliament on Tuesday when opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) walked out of the chamber after a longstanding debate on the land bill – a development described as a cause for concern for our politics by a political commentator.
The opposition lawmakers all left the August house after government maintained that the new bill should not affect freehold land saying it should be under the leasehold.
MPs on the government side had rejected the recommendations raised by Chairperson of the committee Victor White Mbewe on whether the bill could rope in such a change or not.
But opposition lawmakers stood to the ground and went against the stand the government side took. It was after this that they left the house in their large numbers.
But in the chamber, the bill was eventually passed by the government MPs who were less than 80 in number at that time. But what does this mean to our political arena?
Lilongwe based political analyst, Laudon Malingamoyo Phiri says it portrays that the opposition has always opted for politics of protest other than politics of power which he argues is rather a better solution.
‘’Our opposition is known by politics of protest; they hardly offer alternative solutions. It would be great if the opposition would offer politics of power,‘’ Malingamoyo Phiri said in an email response to Malawi24.
He says on both parties there is need for them to provide room for each other if Malawi’s democracy is to look matured.
Malingamoyo argues that while there could be nothing wrong with the opposition protesting against such decisions in a democracy, it could be worth it if they protest of issues that affect the entire public and not them alone.
‘’In democracy, there is nothing wrong with the opposition protesting for anything their bench feels sidelined or not good for the public. However, there is need of some maturity in our democracy especially in the august house; the legislators need to learn to disagree without becoming disagreeable; the government side needs to listen too, ‘’ he said
The analyst has since urged government to be more cautious with such land reforms in the country to avoid killing the next generation by depriving them of land in the future.
He said: ‘’There is no doubt land laws need to be revisited: except for the customary land, most of public land is owned by non nationals, and a few elite. It is interesting to note even the Minister of Lands agrees there is need for amendment of the land laws.
‘’There is need for consensus from both opposition and the government. It is correct to say if nothing happens, our children would end up being landless.”