Speaker says UTM, PP legislators have not crossed floor

Catherine Gotani Hara

Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara on Monday ruled that UTM and People’s Party (PP) Members of Parliament have not crossed the floor by moving to the government side in Parliament.

The Speaker’s ruling on the question of crossing the floor followed a point of order raised on 29th June, 2020 by Member of Parliament for Mangochi South Lilian Patel.

The legislator who is a member of the opposition United Democratic Front sought the Chair’s guidance on whether Members from the UTM and PP who sat on the government side had crossed the floor in terms of provisions of Section 65 of the Constitution.

In her response, Hara said seats are allocated by the Speaker in accordance with Standing Order 39 in consultation with the Leader of House for the government side and Leader of Opposition for the opposition side.

She added that for the Speaker to be satisfied that a Member has crossed the floor, a Member must have ‘voluntarily’ resigned from his/her party and joined another party represented in Parliament.

“Any movement between government and opposition side would be an indication that a member has joined another political party, especially when a Member changes seats while the rest of Members of his party remain in their allocated seats.

“But when the whole party changes seats, the case of UDF in 2014-2019 Parliament, the question becomes different,” she said.

She also noted that PP and UTM are part of the ruling Tonse Alliance but parties forming Tonse Alliance have maintained their identities.

According to Hara, there is no evidence to suggest Members of political parties of Tonse Alliance have joined another party.

“As such, the mere change of seats in Parliament does not signify crossing the floor but the conduct of the Members from now on will be crucial to determine whether they have resigned from the political party which sponsored them into Parliament and joined another party represented in Parliament,” she said.