Malawian opposition lawmaker Ralph Mhone has maintained his claims that the country is in a “constitutional crisis” and that the nation is “headed for lawlessness” under the Peter Mutharika rule.
“We are headed for lawlessness if the Executive who is supposed to be enforcing these laws, does not want to respect the laws,” said Mhone who is People’s Party (PP) Member of Parliament for Nkhata Bay Central.
Mhone, a lawyer by profession, was reacting to the controversial selling of the hitherto government wholly owned Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) despite parliament stopping the sale.
He said Mutharika’s government”seems to want to ignore the law all the time.”
Mhone stated that the Judiciary told the Executive that whenever there is a creature of statute, for example, by law, it cannot be dissolved by a Cabinet decision.
“That was a decision at the High Court of Malawi made in the case of the National Celebrations Council in 1997. You cannot dissolve something created by an Act of Parliament through a Cabinet decision or through a directive. And here, we have an Executive that stole people’s assets [Malawi Posts Office] and put them into MSB and today it is continuing the flouting of the law by selling it to someone else. The law is still intact,” said Mhone.
He pointed out that Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has flouted a law created by Parliament in 2003, which says “if it is a bank don’t sell more than the 50 per cent.”
He asked Gondwe to explain whether the Executive arm of government is prepared to respect the Constitution and the laws that are made by Parliament and which are decided upon by the Judiciary, as to how the Executive should conduct itself.
“Otherwise, this country is in a constitutional crisis,” noted Mhone.
Gondwe conceded that indeed “all the assets of the government and both physical and financial are under the custodianship of the Ministry of Finance, this is true.”
But Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu explained that there is no such restrictions that government cannot dispose more than 49 per cent.
“We have combed through the law beginning with the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act and any other law that we could find, there is no such restriction. Actually, the disposal of public assets is governed by the Public Private Partnership Act and the responsibility to do that is rested in the PPP Commission. They can make deals guided by their Act. So the restriction that is being argued here is not premised on any provisions in the Law,” said Tembenu.
The Justice Minister said Parliament is “a valuable institution” in the country’s democracy, saying it has discharged its role, in pointing to government the issues of concern on MSB sale.
“And having looked at all those, government has taken up its responsibility to do what it has done. That does not mean that it has demeaned the role of Parliament; it has not. It is just that Parliament has its role; Executive has its role and the Judiciary has it role. All arms of government would do well to respect each other’s role in a matter like this one,” said Tembenu.
Justice Minister dispelled fears that the MSB sale transaction has been made illegally.
“I think let us be honest and clear to the people of Malawi that, there is nothing that is illegal in what has happened. Legally, government has followed the law,” said Tembenu.
The Malawian government has disposed of 75 percent of its shareholding in the MSB to Financial Discount House Holdings.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :