Malawi VP Chilima raising an alarm on presidential criminality — Analyst

A Mzuzu-based governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali has said the recent call by State Vice-President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima to remove immunity for Malawi President to face criminal proceedings should not just be easily dismissed but rather perceived from a broader picture as the Veep might be raising an alarm on the possible existence of gross presidential criminality.

Chilima (l) and Inkosi Gomani V (r) ready to set two white doves free

The press on Friday reported that the call by Chilima to repeal the law which guaranteed immunity for Head of State from prosecution during their term of office, saying the President should face criminal proceedings for his or her actions as giving such immunity was like giving the Presidency licence to commit corrupt crimes.

“This provision is a licence for the presidency to conduct corrupt practices knowing he would not be prosecuted. I am calling for an amendment to this section in the Constitution if we are to truly fight corruption in this country,” said Chilima as quoted by The Nation newspaper on Friday.

Malawi’s Professor of Public Law at University of Cape Town Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa told the newspaper that a criminal trial for a Head of State could bring a government to a standstill, and further noted that at the core of the challenges is the lack of independence of the investigative and prosecutorial agencies and a “corrupt political culture that reproduces itself”.

However, in a Nyasa Times questionnaire response Makhumbo Munthali said that while it was difficult to prosecute a sitting Head of State it was important that as a country we should not miss the broader picture or message the Vice President might have been indirectly communicating to the country.

Being an insider and someone exposed to the Presidency, the Vice President might have been raising an alarm on the possible existence of ‘embarrassing’ levels of Presidential criminality particularly in relation to the fight against corruption in the country.

“And by calling for removal of immunity of the President, the Vice President might have been using this as a strategy to get the much needed public attention towards the magnitude of the alleged corruption in the country – which he had earlier on described as reaching embarrassing levels – and indirectly communicating that at the centre of this embarrassing levels of corruption was a higher political and public office something beyond the bureaucrats,” said Munthali.

While concurring with Chirwa’s observations that a criminal trial for a Head of State could bring a government to a standstill, Munthali said the issue of the immunity of the Head of State and senior government officials was a contentious issue even at global level especially when it comes to serious crimes that offend human dignity like those under the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute of the ICC which Malawi is party to.

“Perhaps as a country we should not only be warry about a country being brought to a standstill but also asking ourselves this question: should political or public office be a safe haven where one can run to in order to escape justice over ‘serious crimes’ [in our Malawi context] like corruption which put the lives of many Malawians at risk? One possibility would be to isolate those serious crimes which the President can be prosecuted while in office and retaining immunity over ‘smaller’ crimes to just ensure that there is some order.

“Corruption is fastly becoming a ‘serious’ crime not only in Malawi but also at regional level as clearly reflected in its inclusion as one of the serious crimes of international concern under the proposed African Union’s Malabol Protocol.  After all, there is no guarantee that after serving his or her term of office the President can face justice as there have often been allegations of a successor government shielding the former head of state from prosecution and in some cases evidence being lost,” said Munthali.

He continued to say Malawians should not allow to be a society that massage impunity over serious crimes that offend human dignity.

Section 91 of the Republican 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.”

However, a former president loses immunity and is liable to prosecution for any acts done in his official capacity.

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Panganani
Guest

MA ANALGOUE TIKULUBWA LUBWA NAWOWA AZIPITA KUTI MALAWI ASINTHE.LETS GET DIGITAL WITH THE YOUNG FELLOWS

Last Witness
Guest
Last Witness

LEGO

You are right many important issues in Malawi fail because they are left to MPs who in most cases suffer from “conflict of interest” syndrome. We certainly need referenda on section 64, 50 +1, Gay issues; death sentence; presidential immunity etc. Moreover, that is how we brought democracy in Malawi. Change can’t come if we continue to leave issues to MPs who are equally problematic.

Last Witness.

Juliane Kanthiti Loongoose
Guest
Juliane Kanthiti Loongoose

Koma Chilimayu si politician ndithu. Zachibwana zenizeni when he opens his mouth. Mmene adakhala chete paja bola timayesa ndi wa nzeru as Proverbs 17:28 says. Read also Ecclesiastes 10:5-6. Mwanayu ngakhale pa Lucius Banda akulenga zedi. Tsono atani ndi aja akumuchemelera aja a chi na Kaliati, Makonde, Ngalande ndi Masangwi ma corruption cases akufukukawa?

Giling'ande
Guest
Giling'ande

Paja politician kuti akhale politician amayenera azitani? Azinama?

LEGO
Guest

Some of the laws for it to be implemented it needs a referendum not with these MP’s.Look at section 64 and the 50+1 % ,had it been we had referendum these things could have been a past now.Most of our MP’s are just there for financial gains not to save people’s needs.Why we always find MP’s ditching the parties that voted them to those seats because they find advantage of the laws.

#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
#DzukaniAmalawi

Come to think about it, exposing a sitting president may just be a long shot given that he’s protected by constitution. How about, honourable Chilima, expose those criminal-ridden DPP members that are not protected by constitution, for ACB to then prosecute. Eat this corrupt “elephant” piece by piece until you get to it’s head.

Mesimadzi
Guest
Mesimadzi

Amalawi, muchenjere ndi mkulu ameneyu, ndi wa nkhanza. Mukukumbikira amafuna kugwetsa nyumba Ku mtandire? Osazampatsanso udindo munthu ameneyu. Tangoonani azinzake monga Makondi, Masangwi, Ngalande, Mphwiyo etc all with negative adjectives tagged to their names.

Tired with this Crazy Old man
Guest
Tired with this Crazy Old man

Yeah…in your eyes it’s better that those houses be washed away…fools will ever exist on earth. If one tries to save their lives is when they critisize them….

Rose
Guest
Rose

Chilima Lions club one of our ethics is “To build up my business is not to tear dowm anothers”
Practice smart politics dear.All the best.

Angela masuku
Guest
Angela masuku

What’s he means is that the presidents has been breaking the law..so why can’t he be stopped just as any other Malawian…chilima knows the Bos’s can’t be convicted and re not illegible for the race .

ndele
Guest
ndele

in other words anthu mukulumbwa lubwa kukanatu kusintha. cilima angofotoka zomwe zilipozi lelo.olo atati adzalowe ena ufumuwu olo iye pokomera ndi cisankho ca anthu olowayo azizaganizilapo kuti koma kuti ena nkhaniyi anaikambapo.
tinali ndi ciphwafu cija ca JB kenako ka ben 10. io ankangoonjola nkupanila micila yao pasi phee basi. koma poti cilima akuyesa kufuku;lako kanthu nde iwe iwe iwe ameneyu ameneyu. inu mukuonjolani ndiomwe mukudana ndi coona apa.ndikunama?????????????????????????????????

chataika
Guest
chataika

Bwana Chilima achita machawi adekhe mpando sitithamangira. I think those ppo who made that constitution looked into this critically before thats why there is that immunity for president. He should ask himself why MPs do not want sec 64(recall provision) to be implemented). MPs are afraid that there would fake accusations against them hence MEC would lose even more money in conducting bi-elections. Sitisintha zinthu usanafikepo pa udindowo. Akafuna let him wait if he happens to be voted into power i assume then it will be the right time to say that koma apa afulumira masekowa. Kkkkkkkkkkk

Wadidi Nkhumphedza
Guest
Wadidi Nkhumphedza

Immunity kupasa mbava. Are we serious malawians???

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