Malawi civil servants contesting in 2014 polls told to resign

Malawi government is advising public servants who are contemplating to contest in next year’s tripartite elections should resign from civil service.

Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) spokesman Arthur Chipenda confirmed, saying the call is made through a circular issued by Chief Secretary   to Government, Hawa Ndilowe.

“In order to maintain the independence and neutrality of the public service as enshrined in the section 193 of the constitution and regulation 1.201 of the Malawi Pubic Service Regulations, I require all those that intend to run for political office to first resign from their public service position, prior to embarking on their political campaign trial, including the preliminary stage,” Ndilowe said in a circular to all Principal Secretaries.

Attorney General Anthony Kamanga said the law is clear that civil servants are not supposed to engage in partisan politics.

Hawa Ndilowe: No politics in civil service
Hawa Ndilowe: No politics in civil service

He said where a civil servant wants to join politics; he or she should resign from the civil service.

Associate law Professor Edge Kanyongolo also said civil servants are not supposed to take part in partisan politics.

According to Kanyongolo, the Constitution of Malawi permits civil servants to participate in political activities “as long as such participation does not compromise their role as impartial servants of the general public.”

Reads Section 193 of the Constitution in part: “Members of the Civil Service shall ensure that the exercise of participation in political activities does not compromise their independent exercise of their functions, powers and duties as impartial servants of the general public. The National Assembly may prescribe a category of civil servants, who by reason of their seniority shall not be able to directly participate in political activities provided that the civil servants so restricted shall have the right to resign in order to participate directly in political activities.”

The law further says no government or political party shall cause any civil servant acting in that behalf to exercise functions, powers or duties for the purposes of promoting or undermining the interest or affairs of any political party or individual member of that party, nor shall any civil servant acting in that behalf promote or undermine any political party or member of that party, save as is consistent with the provisions in the section.

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