JB tells Malawi MPs to have ‘clear conscience’ on gay laws

President Joyce Banda has emphatically said Members of Parliament (MPs) in Malawi should deliberate in the House with independent consciences, saying the recent “contentious” laws she proposed that Parliament reviews are not an exception.

The President said during a media  briefing at Mudi State Residence in the commercial capital, Blantyre on Friday,  that she is a democrat and would not be tempted to influence the legislators in any manner. Banda said she expected them to be true representatives of the people.

President Banda was commenting on concerns about decriminalizing homosexual acts which falls under the ‘Indecent Acts’ law in the penal code. She said the law, which was among five “contentious” she asked Parliament to revisit, was a source of concern by some members of the international community.

President Banda and the First Gentleman at Trade Fair on Friday before the press conference. Photo by Living Kalimanjira/Nyasa Times

“I expect the MPs to debate this and the other laws with clear consciences and not thinking about Joyce Banda. It is up to them to maintain the laws or repeal them as they are constitutionally mandated to do that,” said the President.

“The Constitution says the President shall not make, repeal or tamper with any part of the laws,” said the Head of State, adding that should the lawmakers retain the contentious law, she “will go out there and tell the international community” that Malawians are not ready for same sex marriages.

The President then addressed the issue of the death of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika. She said she had instituted a commission of inquiry, which would unearth the circumstances surrounding his sudden death.

“We want that commission of inquiry to establish whether or not there was adequate medical attention; we want to ascertain the exact date of his death because we keep on getting contradicting information; we want to know about the alleged meetings which took place during those 48 hours,” she said.

Banda  said Malawians had the right to know exactly what happened and that in the meantime she had chosen to remain quiet about it as the nation awaits the results of the inquiry.

She was reacting to whether she would comment on a recent statement by Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, which distanced himself from the alleged ‘coup’ where some officials allegedly wanted to sidestep the Constitution and make the late President Mutharika’s brother, Peter, take over.

There have been  calls from various sectors of the society among them the Malawi Law Society that the six ministers who made a public announcement on April 6 that Banda, then Vice President, was not illegible for the country’s presidency should be charged of treason.

The six cabinet ministers are former Information Minister Patricia Kaliati; former Local Government Minister Henry Musa; former Health Minister Jean Kalirani; former Youth Minister Vuwa Kaunda; former Deputy Minister in the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) Nicholas Dausi; and former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa.

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