Attorney General (AG) Dr Chikosa Chilungwe has told Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) that its decision transferring a senior officier in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Chizaso Nyirongo would be unlawful and must be avoided.
Accoridng to a letter dated August 20 2020 to Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Zangazanga Chikhosi, the Attorney General advised against the re-appointment of Nyirongo through secondment from Law Commission as chief law draftsman – officially known as chief legislative counsel – to replace the incumbent Amani Mussa.
The government’s chief legal adviser said in the letter: “I note that you have not responded to my letter of 16th July 2020. Please note that the purported secondment of Mr Chizaso Nyirongo; and the posting of mr Amani Mussa breach the Public Service Act, especially Regulation 1:176 of the Malawi Public Service Regulations. The two decisions are ultra-vires and illegal.”
Silungwe has however refused to comment on the letter, saying he would not dignify “professional misconduct” of leaking government documents with his comment.
Apparently, Nyirongo is a relation to Deputy SPC Janet Chikaya Banda.
He previously served as chief draftsman and was being reappointed to replace Mussa despite Ministry of Justice not asking OPC for the secondment of a person from another department.
Commenting on the development, governance expert Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that SPC Chikhosi should try as much as possible in avoiding repeating the same mistakes which were associated with his predecessor Lloyd Muhara.
“It is apparently clear that the law was breached when handling these secondments. Worse still, the Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission were not consulted. If consultations were done and the law followed to the latter, the Secretary to the President and Cabinet should have been saved from this embarrassment,” stated Munthali.
He continued: “It is an embarrassment of the highest order for two institutions within the same government to be publicly sending conflicting messages on a matter which would have been avoided if the law and consultations were followed.
“It is important that the Tonse government should tread with caution whenever they are handling appointments, secondments or firing people. Fidelity to Constitutionalism and rule of law should be adhered to when making such decisions.
Otherwise, it is the taxpayer who runs the risk of paying the huge legal costs (to individuals who may decide to successfully sue government) for poor administrative decisions.”
In another development former Solicitor General and Principal Secretary for Justice Gertrude Hiwa has taken government to court, challenging her reassignment to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as chief director.
Lawyer Shabir Latif, who is representing Hiwa, said she is seeking a judicial review of the government’s decision to move her to the OPC to take up a position she views as a demotion.
Hiwa was replaced by Bruno Kalemba as Solicitor General.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :