At least 18 civil rights organisations have asked Solicitor General Janet Chikaya Banda to step down from the Peter Mutharika appointed Commission of Inquiry on maizegate following her her comments on social media platform, Facebook, which seemed to imply that the Judiciary was clueless on its powers and functions.
Banda’s post followed the High Court order stopping Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda from carrying out his duties pending findings of the commission of inquiry on the Zambia maize saga.
Writing on her personal Facebook page, Banda, who is also Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary, said Malawi was in a “democracy of anarchy” where “some of the three branches of government don’t know exactly what their powers and functions are.”
Banda went on: “[It is] important to know where executive functions start and end! Where the judicial functions start and end and where legislative functions start and end! Democratic anarchy is rather frustrating to constitutional and administrative lawyers such as some of us.”
But the chairperson of Citizen Platform, Robert Mkwezalamba said the statement by Banda compromised her position in the Commission of Inquiry.
“This is why we are asking her to step down, she has already made up her mind on the matter therefore she cannot be impartial,” he said.
Banda has since deleted the post and deactivated her Facebook account.
She refused to comment on the issue when called but told a local radio the Facebook post was meant to ignite academic debate on the matter.
Mkwezalamba on the other hand threatened mass protests should Chaponda fail to step aside as Agriculture minister to pave smooth investigations.
Malawi Law Society president John Suzi Banda and onorary secretary Khumbo Soko faulted Banda for her remarks.
He said as a member of the commission, she was not supposed to write those remarks which he said were reckless and a regrettable assault on the Judiciary.
MLS said being Solicitor General and Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Banda could have approached the court to reverse the decision.
“Statements such as these are potentially contemptuous of the Court and are a needless distraction to the work of the Judiciary,” Soko said.
Commentators argue that Chikaya Banda had shown her bias by publicly supporting Chaponda in her criticism of the court’s decision.
The Constitution of Malawi, under Section 108 establishing the High Court, states that the Judiciary shall have unlimited original jurisdiction to review any law or decision of the government for conformity with the Constitution with its powers conferred by the Constitution.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :