Malawi’s immediate past president Joyce Banda has thrown her weight behind vice president Saulos Chilima’s suggestion to give more powers to the offce of the vice president to make it more authoritative.
In an interview with Ufulu Radio, Banda said sitting presidents have taken advantage of the ambiguous law in the Constitution to make it a useless office with uncertainty.
“It is possible to give that office a clear mandate. In South Africa, the deputy president is responsible for HIV and AIDS, and the vice president is always busy with that mandate, the president cannot take it away from him,” she said.
Banda said when she was vice president, lpresident Bingu wa Mutharika confronted her for her frequent visits to rural areas, saying this was not her job,
“In the next Cabinet reshuffle, I was not given any ministerial portfolio,” she said.
Chilima said that his United Transformation Movement (UTM) will facilitate the amendment of the Constitution to give the office of the vice president more authority and certainty.
“I do not want my deputy to go through what I have gone through and others before me have gone through,” he said.
He said there was need to empower and respect the office of the vice president.
But a legal commentator Justin Dzonzi said the office of the vice president was created as a reserve office purposely in case the office of the president is incapacitated .
He said giving the office of the vice president more powers would be creating another parallel government within the government.
Dzonzi said world over, the office of the vice president falls under the office of the president.
He suggested against changing the Constitution to deal with a specific problem.
Chilima has had an acrimonious relationship with his boss, president Peter Mutharika after the vice president expressed interest to challenge Mutharika for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party presidency.
Since the introduction of the Office of the Vice-President in the 1994 Constitution, presidents have had acrimonious relationshop with their respective vice-presidents.
The first democratic president, Bakili Muluzi fell out with his vice Justin Malewezi towards the end of their term in 2003 when the latter expressed ambitions to take over as presidential candidate.
In 2005, late president Bingu wa Mutharika fell out with his vice Cassim Chilumpha when the latter refused to leave the United Democratic Front, the party that ushered them into government, after Mutharika formed the DPP.
Chilumpha was even charged with treason but the case did not see the liught of the day due of lack of evidence as it was politically motivated.
Although Banda was a victim of the mistrust that comes between a vice-president and president, she also sidelined vice president Khumbo Kachali in favour of a running mate who would give People’s Party the youth and Central Region votes in Sosten Gwengwe.
Section 79 of the Constitution does not state the functions of the vice-president except the obligation required of them to assist the President.
The Section reads: “There shall be a First Vice-President and, subject to Section 80 (5), a Second Vice-President, both of whom shall assist the President and who shall exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on the First Vice-President or the Second-Vice-President, as the case may be, by this Constitution or by any Act of Parliament and by the President.”
In Section 80(3), the Constitution provides that the Vice-President shall be elected concurrently with the President and the name of a candidate for the Vice-President shall appear on the same ballot paper as the name of the presidential candidate who nominated him/her.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :