Malawi Parliament drops impeachment procedurers

The Malawi National Assembly has withdrawn a review of the Standing Orders that among several others included procedures to fast track the impeachment of the President.

Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda announced in the House on Thursday that the Legal Affairs Committee of the Malawi Parliament which was mandated to do the review has withdrawn its intention to table its report which was put on the Order Paper outlining business in the House.

“At its meeting the Business Committee approved the request of the Legal Affairs Committee to have its report withdrawn,” said Chimunthu Banda.

Speaker Chimunthu Banda: More consultations

“This means therefore, that the report has been withdrawn and will no longer appear on the Order Paper until the Committee decides to bring back that report after they have done what they intend to do, for example, further consultations on the report,” he added.

The review of the Standing Orders included impeachment procedures that could see the President or Vice-President removed within 30 days of being indicted.

The proposed impeachment procedures only require a member to move a motion to indict the President or Vice-President for impeachment to give notice of intention signed by one third of Members of Parliament to the Office of the  Speaker seven days before the motion.

“The notice of motion shall contain allegations of serious breaches of the Constitution and/or written laws by the President or the Vice-President. Any signature appended to the notice of motion shall not be withdrawn,” reads the proposed Section 239 (2) and (3) of the Standing Orders.

The procedures further indicate that the notice will include concise statement of provisions of the Constitution or written laws violated by the President or Vice-President, including sufficient particulars of the facts to prove the violations.

Further reads part of the proposals: “The Speaker of Parliament shall within 24 hours issue writ of summons to the accused President or Vice-President, reciting serious violation and notifying  him or her to appear before the National Assembly, upon a day and at a place fixed within seven days.

“After the debate of the motion, the Speaker shall call a vote on the motion and it shall be passed if affirmed by a two thirds vote of the MPs and the committee of the whole House.”

Section 240 (1), which deals with actual impeachment, indicates that the Speaker shall within 24 hours of the notice, following the resolution on indictment, cause a copy of resolution to be transmitted to the Chief Justice who shall cause notice of indictment to be issued to the President or Vice-President.

Sub rule two states: “The Chief Justice shall, within seven days after receipt of notice transmitted under sub rule (1), constitute a tribunal comprising of two Justices of the Supreme Court [excluding himself or herself] and a legal practitioner of good standing and with not less than 15 years at the bar, to investigate the allegation in the indictment and to report its findings to the National Assembly stating whether or not there is a prima facie case.”

The section states that the President or Vice-President shall be entitled to appear before the tribunal and to be represented by a lawyer of his or her choice.

The review of the procedures caused a steer during the DPP rule following suspicions that they were targeting the then vice President Joyce Banda, who is now the current Head of State, as one of the
efforts to have her removed after she fall out with her boss late Bingu wa Mutharika.

After the fall-out Banda was fired from the DPP and went ahead to form her own party the People’s Party (PP) which is now in government following the death of Mutharika in April this year.

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