Political analysts have welcomed vice president Saulos Chilima’s call to empower ad protect the office of the vice president, saying this has been long over-due.
Chilima, addressing a United Transformation Movement (UTM) political rally in Ntcheu on Sunday said the UTM will facilitate the amendment of the Republican Constitution to give the office more authority and certainty.
“I do not want my deputy to go through what I have through and what others before me have gone through,” he said.
Polical scientist at Livingstonia Synod George Phiri told Nyasa Times that this issue has been on the table for a long time.
“There is no way the office can function well if the Constitution remains the same. This means the office will remain a ceremonial office,” said Phiri.
He said there was need to change the Constitution to give a clear mandate of the office so that the vice president can be evaluated on whether her has performed or not.
Currently, the president delegates jobs to the vice president and when their relationship sours, the vice president is not given any job as is the case between president Peter Mutharika and Chilima.
Phiri said there is need for clear reference of work and mandate for the office of the vice president, the second most powerful office of the land.
Accountability and governance commentator Henry Chingaipe concurred with Chilima that it was time that the functions of a vice-president should not be dependent on the delegation of the president.
He gave an example of the United States of America where a vice-president is president of the Senate, a powerful policy and lawmaking body of government.
Said Chingaipe in quotes reported by The Nation newspaper: “In Malawi, it has been common that a vice-president as running mate is not chosen for work but on the calculus of geographical and political interests. When the person brings in votes, the usefulness ends there.”
Since the introduction of the Office of the Vice-President in the 1994 Constitution, there has been gulf between the presidents and their respective vice-presidents.
The first democratic president, Bakili Muluzi had a good relationship t with his vice Justin Malewezi for almost the entire 10 years in office but only fell out towards the end of their term when the latter expressed ambitions to take over as presidential candidate.
When Bingu wa Mutharika paired with Joyce Banda, he started sidelining her when she opposed plans for succession of his brother Peter t who has also been in bad working relationship with Chilima.
In 2005, late president Bingu wa Mutharika fell out with his vice Cassim Chilumpha when the latter refused to leave the United Democratic Front (UDF) , the party that ushered them into government, after Mutharika formed the DPP.
Chilumpha was even charged with treason, the case which did not see any light of the day in court for lack of evidence.
Similarly, when then vice-president Joyce Banda disclosed her ambitions to take over from Mutharika at the expiry of his term, the party sidelined her and took away her security.
But Joyce Banda also sidelined vice president Khumbo Kachali in favour of a running mate who would give People’s Party the youth and Central Region votes in Sosten Gwengwe.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :