9 November 2018

Malawi: Chakwera Shames Mutharika On 'Vindictive' Cabinet - Exclusion of Malawi VP Chilima On Protocol List 'Illegal'

Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera has added his voice to the chorus of accusations from legal scholars and governance experts on President Peter Mutharika's exclusion of estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima in the State protocol list in revised Cabinet announced on Wednesday night.

Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that President Mutharika new Cabinet is " a shameful disgrace and an unprecedented insult to all Malawians."

He did not mince words to describe the Cabinet as "vindictive."

Said Chakwera: " You have shown this by the exclusion of the Vice President from the Cabinet, simply because he has exercised his constitutional right to disassociate himself from your party.

"You are hindering him from doing his job, when you know fully well that he is still a member of your Government, and when you know fully well that he is drawing a salary and benefits for the work you are refusing to delegate to him just out of spite and pettiness. So for the sake of our constitution, I say shame on you!"

Chakwera's comments comes after Malawi Law Society has stated that the Vice-President's exclusion is illegal as Section 92 (1) of the Constitution makes it mandatory that the VP should be part of the Cabinet.

Two prominent legal scholars Edge Kanyongolo and Danwood Chirwa have also backed the spirit of Constituionalism, saying legally Chilima remains the country's second-in-command.

But Presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said the sidelining of Chilima is a reflection of the VP's assertions that he does not work for the current administration.

Chirwa, professor of law based at South Africa's University of Cape Town, argued that the fact that the VP is vying for the presidency in next year's election on UTM ticket other than the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), does not disqualify him from the Constitutional office.

He said the President and his government are the one who have undermined the office of the VP.

"This forms part of a part of abuse of VPs by the DPP whereby individuals are used for election purposes and then sidelines after coming to power," he said citing Dr Cassim Chilumpha and former president Joyce Banda as the two who were similary "used and abused."

Governance expert Makhumbo Munthali has since commended the leader of opposition for demonstrating a high level of political maturity for standing in the defence of constitutionalism especially on the omission of the name of the Vice President in the Cabinet.

"While political parties or leaders may view each other as opponents, they all have a collective responsibility to ensure that the rule of law is safeguarded. I cannot agree more with Chakwera that the current government is vindictive," said Munthali in an interview with Nyasa Times.

Chilima fell out with Mutharika after he declared he would challenge him in next year's presidential race.

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