President Peter Mutharika has been faulted for retaining of Grace Chiumia in his new Cabinet, with governance commentators arguing it is a disregard to the rule of law after Director of Assets Declaration Christopher Tukula wrote the President to fire her for failure to declare assets.
Chiumia, who is now Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, and five other MPs contravened Section 14 (3) of the Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests Act of 2013. The other MPs who refused to declare their assets are George Chaponda, Willard Gwengwe, Denis Kadzinja, Christopher Mzomera Ngwira and Henry Shaba.
The six did not provide an explanation to the office for their failure to declare assets during the 2016/17 financial year.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) vice-chairperson Gift Trapence, expressed worry on the appointment, saying it needs to be reversed.
“The assets declaration law is very clear in its provision that non-declaration is clear abrogation of the same laws. Our position is that the President is violating this law. He should rescind it forthwith, failing which we will make the minister and the President accountable. We will not tolerate this as citizens of this country,” said Trapence in quotes reported by Weekend Nation newspaper.
Commenting in the same aper, politician-cum-social commentator Humphrey Mvula said maintaining Chiumia in the Cabinet is an indication that some people live above the law as they are rewarded even when they contradict the law.
“What this implies is that there is a promotion of impunity because it shows that somebody can do wrong and still be rewarded with a Cabinet post or maintained,” he said.
Another governance commentator Rafiq Hajat, said maintaining Chiumia in Cabinet is a total disregard for the rule of law and as such, “it constitutes a continuation of the culture of impunity within the political hierarchy.”
Chiumia, who is Nkhata Bay West member of Parliament (MP), is one of the trusted ministers.