Malawi’s Parliament has laid down impeachment procedures for a sitting president, Parliamentary Legal Affairs chairperson Maxwell Thyolera has clarified after Malawi Law Society (MLS) issued a statement calling on the House to ensure they have the provision of impeachment procedures.
In the statement, the lawyers said the House should have clearly laid down impeachment procedures that can be invoked by the Legislature “when a President has committed serious violation of the Constitution or serious breach of the written laws.”
But Thyolela said the impeachment procedures were already laid down and adopted by the House and require the support of one-third of the members of the House for a procedure to commence.
“We already have the procedures for impeachment in place as Parliament. It only requires a member to move a motion if that parliamentarian has the support of one-third of other MPs to indict a President or Vice-President,” Thyolela, a member of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), said.
According to Procedures for impeachment of President or Vice-President, as laid down in Section 208(1) “A member wishing to move a motion to indict the President or the Vice-President for impeachment shall give a notice of intention to move such a motion, signed by one-third of Members of the Assembly to the office of the Speaker seven days before the motion to indict the President or the Vice-President on impeachment is moved in the Assembly.”
MLS called for the impeachement procedure hot on th heals of the K145 million a supplier deposited into a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) account which President Mutharika is the sole signatory, according to a leaked Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) report.
A November 2017 leaked ACB investigative report says a day after Pioneer Investments deposited K2.793 billion payment from Police for supplying 500 000 ration packs, the firm transferred K145 million to a DPP Standard Bank account.
MLS statement signed by its chairperson Alfred Majamanda and secretary Martha Kaukonde has demanded the office of the President to come out clearly on the matter and show its commitment in fighting corruption by “owning up and taking honourable steps in the circumstances by allowing investigations and prosecution to take its course.”
But Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu in press interview hasfaulted the MLS in what he described as ‘rushing’ into conclusions in condemning President Mutharika.
He said: “It is very unfortunate that this is coming from a society of lawyers who are conversant with legal issues. This is the same error that the ACB made in concluding that the President is guilty when the matter actually needs further investigation. Now MLS is bringing the issue of impeachment as if the President has been found guilty of an offence. They should not be making such careless statements. We should understand how donations are made to political organisations. Even if the President is a sole signatory to an account that does not make it an offence.”
Section 86(1) of the Republican Constitution of the National Assembly stipulates that the President and Vice-President shall be removed from office where the National Assembly has indicted and convicted the President or Vice-President by impeachment.
Sub section (2) says the procedure for impeachment shall be laid down by the Standing Orders of Parliament, provided that they are in full accord with the principles of natural justice.
In 2005, Malawi’s Parliament opened debate on impeachment procedures to oust President Bingu wa Mutharika for allegedly violating the Constitution.
The issue of impeachment procedures caused havoc in Parliament during the first term of the Mutharika when some opposition UDF supporters wanted to impeach him on among other grounds that he ditched the party that ushered him into office.
The controversial motion was moved in Parliament by Lucius Banda, who consequently lost his parliamentary seat. Parliamentarians then wanted to impeach the President but the procedures were not yet incorporated into the Standing Orders.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :