Bingu drags VP to court on ‘constructive resignation’

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has dragged Vice President Joyce Banda to court asking for the judges to interpret that she has resigned as VP.

The VP was expelled from the ruling DPP last December and formed her own Peoples Party (PP) early this year.

Private practice lawyer Wapona Kita confirmed to Nyasa Times that he was called by the Vice President after being served with court documents lodged by President Mutharika on constructive resignation.

“I can confirm that I was called by the VP at her residence yesterday after she received some court documents from Allan Ntata. She wanted to understand what the documents meant,” Kita told Nyasa Timesin an interview.

Banda and Mutharika: The two can not be fired after being elected on same ballot

“It’s a Presidential Referral filed with the Constitutional Court at the Lilongwe High Court. The President wants the constitutional court to interpret whether in the light of Section 84 of the Constitution, a sitting VP can become a President of an opposition party, field candidates against the ruling party in elections, form her own shadow cabinet, work against government, and fail to attend cabinet meetings and still be considered the VP under the section,” he explained.

Kita said the VP is challenging the case.

“We are definitely going to challenge case. We believe that section was already interpreted twice by our courts,” said Kita who disclosed the Banda has appointed former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara to head the legal team to challenge the action.

The High Court already made on  Vice President constructive resignation case,  when  former vice president Dr Cassim Chilumpha  in a judicial review  sought a judgement on whether or not the president had legal mandate to deduce that the vice president’s absence from cabinet meetings meant he had resigned constructively.

Two judges held that the constitution does not provide for constructive resignation of the president nor his vice and pointed out that it would be dangerous to imply that constructive resignation exists.

President Mutharika wrote to Chilumpha in February 2006, accepting his resignation letter following a cabinet decision that construed that the vice president abandoned his responsibilities by not attending cabinet meetings among other reasons.

Presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba argued that Banda “resigned constructively” for not attending state functions.

The VP fell out of grace with the Mutharika and his DPP barely two months after assuming office in 2009 after the president started positioning his young brother, Peter, to succeed him in 2014.

The VP refused young Mutharika to become heir to his brother and was eventually pushed out of the party and stripped all positions in government.

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