Kabwila finally challenges disqualification in court

Academician Jessie Kabwila has finally gone to court to challenge the decision by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) barring her  from contesting in the forthcoming tripartite elections as a member of Parliament (MP) under the banner of Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Kabwila had not resigned from her position as a public officer as required by Section 51 (2) (e) of the Constitution. Her application for sabbatical leave was denied, instead University of Malawi granted her indefinite leave of absence.

Through lawyer Kassim Amuli, Kabwila has raised two arguments against the electoral body’s decision to disqualify her.

Kabwila: Seeks justice
Kabwila: Seeks justice

“The first point is that MEC made the decision without summoning my client to fulfill her right to be heard and the second being that the whole decision is based on the wrong interpretation of the law,” Amuli,  a Chancellor College law lecture told Nyasa Times.

Amuli said using Section 40 of the Parliamentary and Presidential Act, he has written both MEC and the High Court.

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) backed the eligibility of Kabwila, who observers said her disqualification is politically motivated since she is very critical to President Joyce Banda.

MLS president Mandala Mambulasa said leave of absence in the case of Kabwila meant that there would no longer be conflict of interest if she held two public offices.

He said Kabwila had fully complied with Section 51 (2) of the Constitution because if elected, she would not be drawing two salaries from the public service.

“The rationale behind the law was never that people should resign from the public office for its own sake. It was to ensure that the candidate does not find himself or herself in a position of conflict of interest because he or she is holding two public offices or appointments,” Mambulasa said as quoted in the press.

He added: “Consequently, although [Kabwila] may not have resigned as such, it is our considered view that Section 51(2)(e) of the Constitution has been fully complied with and satisfied by their leave of absence as the case may be.”

The president of Malawi lawyers said resignation from public office as required by the Constitution was in place to prevent people from using public resources for political campaign so that they should not have unfair advantage over others.

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