President Peter Mutharika has appointed the seventh cohort of 10 commissioners to the taxpayer-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) after the rights watchdog submitted proposed names to his office.
According to statement from Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara seen by Nyasa Times, confirmed the appointment of law expert Dr Sunduzwayo Madise and agronomist Boniface Massa, the executive director of Association of People with Albinism (Apam) as new commissioners .
The statement also confirms the retention of previous commissioners, notably media consultant Baldwin Chiyamwaka and Dr Bertha Sefu.
Other commissioners appointed include Stella Twea, Scader Louis and Rev Cecilia Kotima.
The appointed commissioners will serve for a three-year term of office in line with Section 5(1) of the Human Rights Commission Act [Chapter 3:08 of the Laws of Malawi].
The new commissioners are expected to elect a chairperson from one of them at their first meeting after being sworn into office.
The seven are joined by two ex-officio members from government, the Law Commissioner and Ombudsman.
The law requires MHRC to invite proposals from the public for nominations of those to serve as its commissioners and submits the list of proposals to the president for appointment.
Activist and law expert Habiba Osman writing on social media also said she is “pleased” with the balanced selection of the new commissioners.
“A great selection by the appointing authority,” she posted on her Facebook wall.
Governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthalo commended President Mutharika for ensuring that “women are ably represented”.
Besides, Munthali said the President’s appointment has also ably taken into consideration issues of “social inclusion” by including a person with albinism as a Commissioner.
“This is commendable. In terms of competence, it’s important to note that the majority of those appointed have a demonstrated good track record,” said Munthali in an interview with Nyasa Times.
However, he pointed out that it will be critical to see whether government shall provide a conducive environment to ensure that the Commission works without any political interference and any obstacle.
“Already the Commission has all along complained of under funding which has crippled its operations to fulfil its mandate.
“Again, leadership in terms of the person who will be the new chairperson of the Commission will also matter. History has shown that where you have had progressive and courageous chairpersons such as it was with John Kapito the Commission has made much progress in protection, promotion and respect of human rights,” he said.
Munthali said the public expectation of the new rights Commission is that it will be able to deal with issues of albinism head on as well as remain steadfast in monitoring the May 21 watershed elections in terms of protection, promotion and respect of human rights related to polls.
In terms of composition, the law as well as applicable international standards demands that there should be diversity in the commission. Thus, membership is drawn from NGOs, the academia, religious institutions, professional bodies, among others, that are wholly or largely concerned with promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
As an autonomous institution, MHRC is guided by the values of non-partisanship, loyalty to the Constitution, independence in operations; fairness and impartiality, transparency and accountability as well as integrity.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :