CDEDI demands removal of presidential immunity

Firebrand human rights watchdog – Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) – has challenged President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to start the process of removing presidential immunity, stressing that this is key to succeed in the fight against corruption in Malawi.

CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said by removing the immunity, Chakwera would have also made a bold statement that he was not entangled in any corruption scandals that have rocked the country in the two years of his leadership.

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Namiwa made the sentiments at a press briefing held in Lilongwe on Tuesday.

The firebrand human rights fighter said CDEDI and well-meaning Malawians expected President Chakwera to seize the opportunity of gracing the Africa Day Against Corruption open day activities held in Dedza to declare total war on corruption by announcing that he has moved the system to amend Section 91 of the Constitution, which shields first citizens from criminal prosecution while in office.

“Ironically, the day was commemorated exactly seven days after CDEDI wrote President Chakwera on July 4, 2022, reminding him to re-affirm his commitment towards walking the talk on zero-tolerance on corruption, as per the fourth pillar of his Super-Hi5. CDEDI’s letter was a reminder to the President to honour his promise on trimming presidential powers by, among other means, directing the office of the Attorney General (AG) and the Law Commission, to start the amendment process of Section 91 of the Constitution,” said Namiwa.

He claimed that Chakwera’s alleged changing of tunes and dragging his feet on removing presidential immunity strengthens fears that first citizens entangle themselves in corrupt activities; hence, it’s safer remaining immune.

Namiwa vowed that CDEDI will not relent in piling pressure on the President to either scrap off the presidential immunity or come out in the open and accept that he is compromised in the fight against corruption and, therefore, not fit to continue serving in the high office.

“It is strongly feared that President Chakwera’s heavy political influence has culminated into arm-twisting on ACB director general, madam Chizuma. A classic example being the case where soon after the arrest of the former Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Kainja, the ACB’s chief legal and prosecutions officer Mr. Victor Chiwala publicly told Malawians that four more arrests, in relation to the same alleged corruption scandal, would follow.

“Almost three weeks down the line, none of the ‘four more’ has been arrested. Given this scenario, who can be stopped from suspecting the President’s hand working behind the scenes, controlling the ACB director general, for obvious fears.

“It is for this reason that CDEDI is reminding madam Chizuma that Malawians have put under the microscope any action and word from the ACB, and there are some glaring traits of political manipulation in the way the bureau has been conducting its business lately. We can safely speculate that the appointing authority has put spanners in the works of the bureau as regards the promised four more arrests,” narrated Namiwa.

He also reminded the ACB Director General that Malawians are waiting for the day the alleged high-profile case involving a British businessperson Zuneth Sattar will be tackled with the urgency they deserve.

The CDEDI leader also reminded Chakwera that he has six more days to act on Section 91 of the Constitution or brace for nationwide demonstrations to force him to start honouring his flagship campaign promises.

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