CSOs to seek court redress on civil servants contesting for political positions

The  civil society organisation (CSO) have written the Chief Secretary to government, Lloyd Muhara to discipline civil servants who are contesting  for political positions in political parties prior to the 2019 Tripartite Elections, contrary to Civil Service Regulations.

Attorney General Charles Mhango: Faulted on his partisan politics

According to circulating fliers on social media, some people working in the mainstream civil service   are vying for various political positions at the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) elective convention this weekend.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) have since said they would seek court redress.

“The Public Service Regulations is very clear that any civil servant wishing to vie for any position in any political party must first resign from the civil service,” said lawyer Maxwell Tembo who has been hired by the CSOs to pursue the matter.

Section 193 of the Constitution stipulates that members of the civil service shall ensure that the exercise of participation in political activities does not compromise their independent exercise of their functions, powers and duties as impartial servants of the general public.

However, whenever a civil servant joins or aligns with an opposition political party, the government act swiftly to dismiss them from employment but there is inaction for a civil servant who joins the ruling party.

Recently, Malawi Law Society has stated that A ttorney General (AG) Charles Mhango’s active involvement in frontline politics, where he doubles as legal adviser for the ruling DPP, raises  “legitimate and practical questions”.

The Malawi Constitution, in Section 98(1) considers the Attorney General as the ‘principal legal adviser to government’ responsible for advising the Government on all legal matters and conducts civil litigation for and on behalf of the Government.

Mhango is on campaign roll for DPP ahead of next year’s Tripartite elections  and has also declared his interest to contest as legislator for Rumphi Central Constituency to face Aford president and current  member of Parliament (MP) Enoch Chakufwa Chihana.

But  Mhango said he is not the first one to be in that position while still active in mainstream politics, saying the law permits such a situation.

He said the argument against him would only be justifiable in a case where someone can prove that he has not provided fair advice say to Parliament or members of the House because of his affiliation to the DPP.

“In my scenario, the political party I am giving advice to is a ruling party; therefore, I do not see any conflict of interest. However, in my advice as Charles Mhango, I do not show my party colours because I advise the Speaker, I advise the Chief Justice and I advise all the three arms of government. I don’t, in my work, demonstrate any party colours,” he said.

Private practice lawyer Justin Dzonzi shares fears that the AG’s affiliation to the ruling party undermines his role as a principal legal adviser to government.

Malawi’s leading daily newspaper, The Nation, said in its editorial comment on Thursday that “this kind of cherry-picking when it comes to application of the law is counterproductive and detrimental to democracy.”

The paper said the law has to be applied equally.

It said if a civil servant wants to join politics; the honourable thing to do is to resign.

The paper said there is no need to engage in deliberate actions to politicise the civil service.

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Yahya Yahya Jammeh
4 years ago

The Malawi Law Society is a toothless dog that keeps on barking without biting. It is aware Mhango is wrong, but it cant take action against him and yet he is a member of the Law Society. We don’t want hypocrisy. Deal with those that are on the wrong side of the law or else we will assume you are afraid of the AG..

4 years ago

I am not a lawyer but as a layman I find the article very cofusing. The requirement to resign is a government regulation and not a constitutional requirement. The constitution requires the said civil servant to ensure that their service delivery is not compromised by their participation in politics. It would appear the constitution and the regulation are in conflict and in such instances, a layman like myself, would have expected the constitution to prevail over the regulation. With that understanding I feel the court redress is not required as no constitutional provision has been broken. If it is true… Read more »

Wa chamba
Wa chamba
4 years ago
Reply to  Mesimadzi

You are indeed a lay man. There is no contradiction. Public service regulations even though secondary to the constitution are applicable in these circumstances. And the law is clear you either resign or risk getting fired. However authority to discipline is discretion of the govt. On the other hand MEC also has powers to reject a nominees application if he or she does not resign from the civil service

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