Malawi President could lose immunity from prosecution: Corruption indaba report out

A law giving a Head of State immunity from prosecution on any criminal charges could be repealed if Cabinet and then Parliament endorse recommendations in a report from the National Anti-Corruption Conference.

Tembenu (right) with President Mutharika: Report  is ready

In April last year, the Malawi Government held a high-profile conference on corruption where stakeholders discuss how to combat corruption in the country, among other issues.

According to a report on the conference, to be presented to Cabinet, there is recommendation to change the law that guarantees immunity to a sitting President from prosecution to any criminal offences including wrongful self-enrichment.

“The Constitution must be revised because it gives too much comfort to the President in terms of the immunity from prosecution during his [or her] tenure,” reads the report in part.

The President cannot be prosecuted on any criminal charges as the law stands now.

But the conference, according to the report, noted t hat the immunity has left successive President in “comfort zone” and with impunity.

“Although the fact that the President can be impeached is already a check and a balance,” it said.

The report also noted the twin evils of nepotism and tribalism, saying “it is surprising” that they were not raised in the consultations as perpetrating corruption.

“It was observed that President often appoints those that are from their home districts. Nepotism and tribalism must be checked under the law,” reads the report.

The report also calls for a new and revised legislation to enhance the corruption fight including the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) to give the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) more independence to exercise its mandate in line with the country’s constitutional obligations as demanded by the people.

This comes against a general low perception on the graft-busting body’s ability to fight corruption in the country with the donor community and civil society organisations already expressing serious concerns.

Several commentators have expressed concern suggesting that the graft-busting body “is morally compromised” and its operations were no longer relevant to the society.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said the document is ready and will be presented to Cabinet for discussion, justifying the delay, saying they wanted to produce a “credible” document highlighting the recommendations to enable stakeholders to take action.

European Union Ambassador Marchel Germann is on record saying the development partners were still waiting for the official report of the Conference.

Tembenu said the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs would be examining the recommendations and advise the cabinet accordingly.

He however said that for those [recommendations] that were implementable immediately, the government would proceed to do so.

According to Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released on Wednesday, corruption continues to worsen in the country.The index shows that the country has moved down two places from 120 in 2016 to 122 in 2017.

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DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
DzukaniAmalawi

The problem with the constitution is that it was written with specific characters in mind and once there is leadership change it is then that we see gaps. I don’t think at of writing the constitution they had Mutharika’s in mind; who in their wisdom, have sown seeds of division, encouraged and practiced nepotism, tribalism and favouritism, which has led to massive looting. I don’t think that the constitution should be amended at this stage to just deal with the “Peter Mutharika’s” of today. What needs to be done is the enforcement of the existing provisions. If the president is… Read more »

Central
Guest
Central

Now I can understand why Tembenu is changing goal posts. Sincerely the source of all problems Malawi is facing right now include: twin evils of nepotism and tribalism because they indeed perpetrate corruption; too much comfort to the President in terms of the immunity from prosecution; and wrongful self-enrichment.

Tembenu sangalume chala chomwe chikumudyetsa sizingatheke…………………………………………………………….

The constitutional review will happen with the next government not these thieves, mind you the issue of K4 billion is still too fresh…………………………!!

DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
DzukaniAmalawi

The problem with the constitution is that it was written with specific characters in mind and once leadership changes the law is then exposed to inadequacies. I don’t think at the time when the constitution was drafted it had Mutharika’s in mind, who in their wisdom, have sown seeds of division, through nepotism, tribalism and favouritism leading; to massive looting of government coffers. I don’t think that the constitution should be amended at this stage to deal the “Peter Mutharika’s” of today. What needs to be reinforced is the enforcement of existing provisions. If president is found to be corrupt,… Read more »

Listen and Love
Guest

Peter Muthalika pretty knows all the loopholes of Malawi’ constitution as he was one of the key framers of this supreme legal document on the land. Loopholes such as a presidential immunity from prosecution while in office and first pass the post are detrimental to Malawi’s democracy but Peter will try all tactics in the world against repelling these bad laws. Malawians must tirelessly fight all and any bad law that benefits the few and not the entire nation. Experience has taught us a bitter lesson that when a selfish person becomes a head of state and his stay in… Read more »

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