Malawi prominent newspaper backs lifting President’s immunity from prosecution: ‘It makes sense’

A prominent daily newspaper in Malawi, The Nation, has endorsed  debating the motion that that will strip a sitting President of their immunity from prosecution.

Chilima: Scrap the immunity so we drain the swamp

Chiradzulu North member of Parliament (MP) Willet Kalonga (independent) is set to table a Private Member’s Motion to amend Section 91(2) of the Constitution to remove the provision that gives a sitting President immunity.

His notice to move the motion follows Vice-President Saulos Chilima calling for an amendment of a constitutional provision that would enable the removal of presidential immunity.

In an editorial comment on Tuesday, The Nation,  said revising the presidential immununity “makes sense” because MP Kalonga  raises an interesting point when he says the provision defeats the purpose of the presidency to uphold the rule of law. Further, he argues that everyone is equal before the law and  that, in some cases, the President’s cronies and associates engage in corruption in the name of the President.

“We see this is a healthy debate that should be given room, including in the National Assembly,” the paper said in its editorial comment.

The paper said removing the immunity  of the sitting President  would keep the  office bearers on their toes “and enhance their  commitment to fight  corruption.”

Chilima, who is on record as having condemned appalling corruption levels in the government he serves, called for the amendment of the law on the basis that the provision is a licence for the presidency to engage in corrupt practices as the office bearers know they would not be prosecuted.

Section 91 of the Constitution gives immunity from civil lawsuits and criminal charges to a person holding the office of President or performing the functions of President.

Section 91(2) reads: “No person holding the office of President shall be charged with any criminal offence in any court during his term of office.”

Governance commentator Mankhumbo Munthali said  the debate makes more sense indded because  the presidency should not be “a safe heaven where someone should run to in order to escape from the whims of justice.”

Munthali said he is strongly of the view that a President implicated in serious crimes like corruption and murder should be exempted from immunity.

Meanwhile, Kalonga,  who has appealed to MPs across the divide to support the motion for the sake of future generations, said an effective political leadership said when a President is blatantly involved in corruption and fraud, it defeats the purpose of the presidency to uphold the rule of law.

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4 years ago

The parliament can pass any Bill they want but if enforcement is weak then its useless. Malawi has great constitution, elaborate policies and wishy was vision. Same policies that Malawi has written are being used to great effect by countries like Rwanda. Malawi politicians are just too bad at implementing their own laws and policies. As it stands today, the constitution provides for charging an ex-president for the crimes committed whilst in office. We have muluzi case which has been dragging for over a decade now. Eventually he will be acquitted. The challenge with Malawi isn’t lack of laws but… Read more »

4 years ago

All these bills that are targeting particular people will not help our country. A bill should be brought because it is necessary not because some people are targeting someone. That is where we go wrong as a country.

Kalenga ndi Mzake
Kalenga ndi Mzake
4 years ago

This is a non starter. Immunity from criminal and civil prosecution is only while in office. If a president is in office and involved in corruption he can be impeached then after impeachment he can be taken to court since the impeachment itself would have gathered enough evidence of guilt. Can you imagine if some foreign president wants to visit but at same time the president maybe has a court date. Or you want to set a court date and there is a UN general assembly and president wants to attend. How long can that trial take. That’s why impeachment… Read more »

4 years ago

Yes the removal of the immunity from prosecution is good for a nation whose fuel is vendetta. At no point has the majority of Malawians ever basked in development all of us are religiously relishing the catch of big fish in the political pond right now we hysterically call for a matter which can plunge this nation into a constitutional turbulence. MCP with JZU miserably failed to dislodge DPP with Bingu at the helm by employing section 65 on the flight of the legislators from their legitimate parties, so some proposals are the face of the hate and frustration of… Read more »

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