Malawi govt react to judge’s ruling: ‘President Mutharika complied with the law’

Malawi government has exercised its own prerogative –  to attack High Court  judge Kenyatta Nyirenda  – who faulted President Peter Mutharika for making a declaration of a national disaster over the coronavirus without citing the law under which the declaration was being made.

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala: The law from announcing any extraordinary measures as necessary in order to protect persons affected or likely to be affected by the disaster so declared

Ministry of Justice in a statement issued by its spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala has defended the declaration saying Mutharika used Section 32 of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act.

“In making the Declaration, the President complied with section 32 of the Act and as required by that provision, caused the said declaration to be published in the Gazette as Government Notice No. 4 in the Malawi Gazette Supplement of 3rd April, 2020,” said Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala in a statement.

Masanjala added that the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act does not stop the President, as Head of State and Government, from announcing any extraordinary measures as necessary in order to protect persons affected or likely to be affected by the disaster so declared.

One of the legal scholars asked the public to ignore anti-judge venom and give thanks for an independent judiciary upholding the principles of democracy.

In his widely circulating ruling, Justice Nyirenda said: “Honestly, the very thought of declaring a state of disaster without even bothering to tell Malawians in clear terms the law under which the declaration is made is taking Malawians for granted.”

Justice Nyirenda said he is “duty bound” to give the judicial advice having taken judicial oath and oath of allegiance.

He pointed out that  as matters now stand, unless the government moves with speed to take necessary legislative measures, the possibility of exposure by the  State to pay colossal sum of money in compensation for violating human rights as a result of imposing measures anchored in law is very high.

Justice Nyirenda further pointed out that the legislative regime governing Malawi’s response to disasters, regardless so the nature and the extent of the disasters, is not only archaic and obsolete but “it is also in total shambles.”

He said: “ Almost all, if not all, applicable laws are completely outdated. Needless to say, the coronavirus epidemic has caught the authorities with their pants down – witness panic stations everywhere.

“How the authorities expect to effectively combat the epidemic in 2020 with laws enacted in 1948 (Public Health Act), 1964 (Immigration Act) and 1991 (Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act) boggles my mind.”

Justice Nyirenda said this is not the time to start questioning patriotism of fellow Malawians but to “ collectively pull up our socks so that we can fully apply our minds and energy to the reparation of the necessary legislation.”

President Mutharika declared a state of disaster on March 23 to combat the  coronavirus. There is no lockdown but schools are closed and the government says it is urging people to work from home and follow hand-washing and social-distancing guidelines.

All social gatherings of more than 100 people, such as funerals, church services and political rallies, have been banned.

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Millan Matatula Gondwe
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Millan Matatula Gondwe

Don’t use our tribe in vein. I am a happy tumbuka based here in Zambia. Please refrain from insulting us otherwise we shall respond with big insults.

TheTimeIsNow
Guest
TheTimeIsNow

Masanjala missed the point. The issue was never about whether the president can declare a state of disaster or not. The law allows him to declare a state of disaster , however, what the learned judge meant was that president Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika should have quoted the relevant sections that empower him to declare a state of disaster. That’s the law. APM took short cuts. It’s ironic that APM was one those that had drafted the current constitution yet he isn’t on top of things. The ruckus caused also brings into question the capabilities of his legal advisors. Akungodya… Read more »

Muyuda
Guest
Muyuda

Now they are attacking him few yrs ago they were praising him

Bauleni
Guest

These Tumbuka judges.. ayaya.. the most corrupt court in the world.. biased and nepotistic.. court lonse kuzaza ndi a kanyimbi akumpoto.. vindere!!

Millan Matatula Gondwe
Guest
Millan Matatula Gondwe

Mind your language boss. We shall respond with big insults

Bandawe
Guest
Bandawe

Those who were clapping hands for a foolish judge, Kenyatta Nyirenda can now see that he is responsible for the spread of corona-virus in Malawi. His 72-page ruling allowed people to leave isolation and undermined immigration authorities.

MaKhovid
Guest

And you call these rotten judges “learned”? If they can not see how dangerous corona is, who can trust their rulings anymore? Komatu penapake judiciary yawonjeza zibwana.

MMalawi
Guest
MMalawi

zoba iwe

Noxy
Guest

Mr President don’t listen to rubbish keep on implementing measures you are taking it’s good for our country safety first.

Hello
Guest
Hello

So, this is how it plays. Tumbukas and fellows from the dead North have taken over judiciary. Ochewa making themselves felt ku legislature pomwe angulu and southerners are in charge of the executive. Foolish thinking.

Angoni
Guest
Angoni

Interesting observation…lol

Kandulu
Guest
Kandulu

Who elected APM for another five year term? He is acting as if he is an elected president. He wants to become the life president of Malawi through backdoor tactics. It won’t work.

Bauleni
Guest

Uwona Nyekhwe sunati.. 5 more years of muntharika.. tilipano

Ndendeuli
Guest
Ndendeuli

Law is law whether Kenyatta Nyirenda thinks its outdated or not.

Bauleni
Guest

Ndi Nyirenda!! Let that sink in..

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