Malawi Law Society and governance expert have said President Peter Mutharika’s decision to remove Vice-President Saulos Chilima on protocol list as observed on Cabinet list released by the Office of the President and Cabinet and signed by Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara is a “threat to constitutionalism.”
The two top citizens have had a strenuous relationship and Chilima ditched the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in June this year and declared he will challenge Mutharika in the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections under the banner of his newly former UTM party.
“The current Cabinet risks being declared unvalid or unconstitutional by virtue of leaving out the Veep,” governance expert and commentator Mankhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times, saying one can move the Court to review the President’s decision.
He said the move contradicts Section 92(1) of the Constitution which states: “There shall be a Cabinet consisting of the President, the First Vice-President, the Second Vice-President and such ministers and deputy ministers as may, from time to time, be appointed by the President.”
Munthali said if the Cabinet protocol list is challenged in court it would mean that any functions carried out by members of the cabinet may be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
“ The Constitution is very clear on the composition of the Cabinet,” he said. “In a sense, what the President has done is a threat to constitutionalism.”
Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Alfred Majamanda also said the provision in Section 92(1) of the Constitution makes it mandatory that the Vice-President should be part of the Cabinet.
He also said the anomaly following Mutharika’s of Chilima is a threat to constitutionalism, especially when it comes to presiding over Cabinet meetings.
Majamanda said Section 92(3) which provides that Cabinet meetings shall be presided over by the President or, “in the temporary absence of the President”, by the First Vice-President. The Constitution further states that in the “temporary absence” of the President and the First Vice-President, the Second Vice-President shall preside over such meetings.
In February 2014, Mutharika picked Chilima, who worked in the private sector as the first Malawian managing director for Airtel Malawi Limited, as his running mate and the duo ousted then incumbent Joyce Banda and her People’s Party (PP) from Capital Hill.
Chilima has publicly expressed dismay over growing levels of corruption in government, deteriorating standards of living among Malawians and hooliganism orchestrated by the ruling DPP youth cadets.
The Cabinet list also has seen the President role at Commander-In Chief of Malawi Police Services being omitted but that of Malawi Defence Forces was mentioned.
On the protocol list the second after President Mutharika is Goodall Gondwe (Finance, Economic Planning and Development) who has retained his seat and then third Henry Mussa as Information and Communications Technology and fourth Jean Alfazema Kalirani as Minister if Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
Protocol list shows Kondwani Nankhumwa (Local Government and Rural Development) onf fifth and then sixth placed Atupele Muluzi (Health and Population) followed by Fanrcis Kasila (Industry, Trade and Tourism) then Joseph Mwanamvekha (Agriculture, Irrigation and Development).
On number nine on protocol list is Bright Msaka (Education, Science and Technology) followed by Samuel Tembenu (Justice and Constitutional Affairs), Emmanuel Fabiano (Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) , Grace Chiumia (Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Developmen) and Jappie Mhango (Transport and Public Works).
The protocol continues with Nicholas Dausi (Ministry of Homeland Security -hat will also incorporate the Department of Disaster Management Affairs -Dodma), Cecelia Chazama(Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare), Aggrey Massi (Natural Resources, Energy and Mining ) and Everton Chimulirenji ( Civic Education, Culture and Community Development).
The Cabinet list also includes Charles Mchacha, who is also Thyolo West legislator, as Deputy Minister of Homeland Security. And two new faces are Phalombe East member of Parliament (MP) Alex Mailosi as Deputy Minister of Defence and Chitipa South MP Welani Chilenga as Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.
Kalekeni Kaphale as Attorney General has also been included in the Cabinet list.
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