Ntata not Bingu’s lawyer, MLS ‘prejudicial’- Ntaba

Presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba has dismissed assertions that President Bingu wa Mutharika’s application to the Constitutional Court to have Vice-President Joyce Banda removed could fail because Allan Z Ntata who lodged the application has no licence to practice as a lawyer.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) honorary secretary Jabbar Alide said the implication of having a lawyer without a licence to practise is that such a legal officer cannot appear before courts and if he or she did, the judge would strike off the matter if discovered.

But Ntaba speaking on Tiuzeni Zoona programme on Zodiak Broadcasting Services on Sunday said Ntata was not President Mutharika’s lawyer.

“Ntata is legal adviser [to the President] not a lawyer,” said Ntaba.

Ntaba: Malawi Law Society acts like a pressure group

The Presidential spokesman said Ntata is waiting for his licence from MLS to practice.

“Ntata applied for licence in April. He paid his fees in June,” informed Ntaba.

“He needs tax clearance certificate. It has been delayed because Malawi Revenue Authority have changed their procedures of issuing the certificates,” said Ntaba, pointing out that the situation is not unique on Ntata but many other lawyers.

But according to published reports, MLS executive director Paula Kaitano denied that Ntata renewed his licence.

Ntata lodged the Presidential Referral in the Constitutional Court on September 16, 2011, on behalf of President Mutharika, asking the court to give an opinion on whether by forming another political party and not attending Cabinet meetings “the Vice-President cannot be said to have resigned within the meaning of Section 84 of the Constitution.”

MLS says the case would collapse because Ntata had no legal authority to file the application without the licence.

But Ntaba accused the Law Society of working to “frustrate the referral case.”

He called MLS revelations on Ntata’s legal status is being “prejudicial.”

“Malawi Law Society are at fault. They behave like pressure group and not as a legal watchdog,” claimed Ntaba.

And in her sworn-affidavit filed in the case, the Vice President also pointed out that Ntata does not have authority from the court to represent the president in the matter instead of the Attorney General who has court authority.

“That the legal counsel to the president does not have authority to represent the president as required by Section 3 (2) of the Civil Procedure or any other authority,” Banda argues.

Section 84 provides that if the first vice president dies or resigns from office, or where in accordance with Section 87 the office is vacated through the incapacity of the first vice president for more than 12 months, the vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired period of the term by a person appointed by the president.

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