The office of the President and Cabinet and the Malawi Police have admitted being in the wrong n relation to their action to withdraw security from the vice president Saulos Chilima and they have since been ordered to pay the costs for the legal action that followed their action.
Following the admission by OPC and the Police a court order has since been issued that states: “The decisions of the Respondents reducing the number of police officers guarding [at] the official residences of the Applicant in Lilongwe and Blantyre; transferring police officers working at the said residences; and withdrawing some of the motor vehicles assigned to the office of the Vice President of the Republic of Malawi be and are hereby wholly and effectually withdrawn.
“The Respondents shall pay costs of these proceedings and the same are to be taxed if not agreed by the Parties.”
Commenting on the development, governance expert Makhumbo Munthali said: ” It simply means that the Police and government have finally acknowledged that what they did to the Vice President was unconstitutional but rather based on politics of retribution.”
He added: “To avoid the embarassment of losing the case the best way was to take this step (settling out of court). While government and police must be commended for taking this humble step, the implications of such an action on how the Police and the Office of Chief Secretary discharge their duties are enormous. This only confirms the existing public perception that the Police and the Chief Secretary are not professional in their work especially when dealing with the critics of the President.”
Munthali continued: “It also signals the high level of impunity that continues to characterise these two offices whereby political interests of the ruling party reigns supreme over Constitutionalism.”
This is not the first time a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has been called out by the courts on the very same issue of withdrawing security from a sitting Vice President.
Just after the 2009 elections, the DPP withdrew security from then Voice President Joyce Banda after she fell out with then President Bingu wa Mutharika but the courts quickly reinstated the security. Joyce Banda went on to become State President.
Ironically, current Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu told the country after VP Chilima left the DPP that the government will not take away anything as it is only giving him what he is entitled to.
It was the same Tembenu as head of the Judiciary who allowed for the DPP to not only repeat its 2012 blunder before quickly reinstating it, without contest, but also decided to admit culpability to accept wrong doing
Further irony to the matter is based on the fact that the current Secretary to the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara who operationalizes such orders was a sitting judge at the high court when the courts threw the book at DPP government of Joyce Banda matter.
This means that that taxpayers money will now be used to pay for this deliberate error.