Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera has insisted that President Peter Mutharika should have declared a State of Emergency instead of a State of Disaster depsite Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu explaining that the President opted for a declaration of State of Disaster as a more prompt reaction requiring less procedure that also preserved human rights.
Chakwera argued in parliament that a State of Emergency in floods-ravaged areas could have made a difference in the response to those affected
“More could have been done by Parliament or the relevant committee to declare a State of Emergency,” the opposition chief said in response to a ministerial statement which Minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure Francis Kasaila delivered in the House at the start of the four-week mid-year budget meeting.
“This is the worst disaster that Malawi has experienced in recent memory. It is important that we stand together, it is not time for scoring cheap political points,” said Chakwera, apparently reacting to government rejection of his calls.
According to Tembenu, a state of emergency results in curtailment of people’s rights, restrictions on liberty and other rights as well as imposition of curfews.
“Under Section 45 sub-section Three of the Constitution, the President may with approval of the Defence and Security Committee of the National Assembly call for a state of emergency only in times of war, threat of civil war or widespread national disaster,” Tembenu said.
The Minister said the current situation was ably tackled by a State of National Disaster as stipulated in section 32 sub-section One of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act of 1992.
He added that a State of Emergency has a shorter life span of 21 days.