Malawi lawmakers have insisted that they want to grill President Peter Mutharika in parliament as part of accountability politics, saying he should oblige to the constitutional requirement.
Opposition lawmakers argue that the fact that there is no opportunity for parliament to hold to account the only member of the executive branch of government who is elected – the Head of State – is a serious cause for concern.
But, Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale has said Parliament should draft the agenda of the President answering questions from the lawmakers if it was necessary and invite the Head of State.
In National Assembly, Ministers answer questions from lawmakers but the MPs argue that ministers are not elected an only the presidency is, saying Mutharika should face His Excellency’s Question Time (HEQs) style-session since holding the executive to account is one of the three responsibilities parliament.
Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Peter Chakhwantha, has since said if President Mutharika fails to appear before Parliament before the final consideration of the 2015/16 National Budget will be accused of “higher moral turpitude” which is an impeachable offence.
“I am sure he won’t allow himself to be seen [that] arrogant to take this path, particularly when donors have already been calling for him to demonstrate good governance and tight fiscal disciplinary steps,” Chakwantha is quoted by Daily Times.
“It is important for us, as MPs, to be put on track so we can make informed choices before we pass the 2015/16 Budget. We need to know what policies have worked or failed Malawians, what the government has done with the budget we passed in 2014 before we even pass this 2015/16,” said Chakhwantha.
He further charged that as representatives of poor Malawians, the lawmakers need a conversation with “our dear leader, the professor of constitutional law. There is nothing unconventional.”
According to Section 89 (3) of the Constitution, the President is required to submit himself before Parliament without necessarily being invited by anyone as he does with the State of the Nation Address.
The call for HEQs have received backing from the civil society with Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo and rights campaigner Billy Mayaya, saying Mutharika should appear before Parliament.
“For instance, there is the issue of Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) which we believe has to be clarified by the President in his capacity as Malawi’s CEO. He (Mutharika) has a tendency of keeping quiet when issues of national importance are being discussed,” said Mtambo as quoted in Daily Times.
Mayaya said any excuse being made that implies the President may not appear before Parliament is illegal.
Malawian professor of law based at the University of Cape Town, Danwood Chirwa, has clarified that the President does not have to be called by Parliament for him or her to answer questions posed by MPs for the HEQs.
Chirwa said the President “is constitutionally obliged to appear before Parliament every year, immediately before the consideration of the budget, to do [the said] three related things.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :