Kaliati, five ministers face treason over coup plot

Malawi’s deposed Information and Civic Education minister, loud mouthed Patricia Botomani  Kaliati and other five serving cabinet ministers have been hauled to court to face the wrath of the law on treason charges for undermining incumbent President Joyce Mtila Banda.

A concerned citizen  argues that the six wanted to destabilise peace and bring confusion into the country.

Kaliati, who was also government spokesperson, accompanied by five other cabinet  addressed an impromptu press conference late at night on Tuesday April 6, 2012 a day after the late president Bingu wa Mutharika succumbed to a sudden cardiac arrest,  telling Malawians that the then Vice President Joyce Banda had no mandate  to rule the country because she was an outsider as she had formed her own party.

But a Nkhata Bay businessperson Watson Katawa,  who owns Katawa Bus Services,  believes Kaliati and company  acted in a manner tantamount to subversion and treachery as they tried to block the law and constitutional order to take its course.

Kaliati: To be in the dock

Katawa told Nyasa Times that he is pursing the matter in his capacity as a private citizen because he strongly believes that Kaliati alongside Sports minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Health and Population Services minister Dr. Jean Kalilani, Local Government Minister Henry Mussa, deputy ministers in the office of the president Nicholas Dausi and Foreign Affairs deputy minister Kondwani Nakhumwa conducted themselves in a manner that would have likely caused a breach of peace and subsequently bring chaos and uncertainty in the peaceful country.

“I have no political interest in this matter, but as a peace loving Malawian I believe that Kaliati and the five ministers alongside other Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stooges broke the law and a constitutional order which is crystal clear as to what must happen if the incumbent president is dead or incapacitated.

“Their conduct was criminal and therefore they must be brought to justice. A criminal matter can only be addressed by court of law. There is nothing political here, this is pure criminal in nature and it is only the courts that can punish them accordingly,” said Katawa.

Katawa is taking further argued that Kaliati and her colleagues’ attempt to dig at a constitutionally elected Vice president is a mockery to the country’s rule of law saying that is why the court must prosecute the six politicians because nobody is above the law and nobody below it.

He says the matter is being pursued  “to set an example to all Malawians that no one can rape the constitution and go scot-free. “

According to the Supreme Laws of Malawi in Section 83 (4) of the Constitution, when a sitting president dies or is incapacitated the vice president automatically takes the reign of power.

Katawa  has  instructed his attorneys Banda, Banda Company, to start legal proceedings in the matter.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) who condemned the ministers for suggesting, during the press conference, that Banda’s formation of PP precluded her from being eligible to ascend to the presidency said in an interview that Katawa has a legal right to pursue the matter as a private citizen.

“The law in Malawi provides for private prosecution,” said Mwakhwawa adding that however in some cases crimes can  only be pursued privately after obtaining consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The Malawi Law Society, in a statement, said the ministers who addressed the news conference should be dragged to court and face treason charges for convening a ‘Cabinet’ meeting without legal authority.

There are reports that the cabinet had planned to arrest Vice president Joyce Banda and place her on treason charges and in the event sworn in the president’s young brother Professor Arthur Peter as the country’s president. But according to reports the cabinet was divided on the matter with other going against the plan.

President Banda, who was expelled from the late Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in December 2010 for allegedly forming parallel structures, was sworn in as President on April 7 2012 in line with the country’s constitutional orders.

Efforts to contact Kaliati proved futile as her mobile number was constantly switched. The other ministers too could not be reached for their comment.

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