Fresh from meeting President Peter Mutharika to find a lasting solution to political violence, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has accused Chief Secretary to Office of President and Cabinet (OPC), Lloyd Muhara, of attempting to stifle justice as Malawians prepare for the fresh presidential election.
Malawians are scheduled to go to polls on June 23 2020, where they are expected to choose a new president following the nullification of the May 2019 tripartite elections by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) and as upheld by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal (MSCA).
However, the quasi-religious organization PAC has expressed fear that the recent pronouncement by Muhara to force Chief Justice Nyirenda to proceed on leave pending retirement could be recipe for disaster.
The organization, through a statement its committee chairperson Monsignor Patrick Thawale and publicity secretary Bishop Gilford Matonga have signed, says the Judiciary is a vanguard for constitutionalism as well as the rule of law, and “an assault on it defeats the wheels of democracy.”
PAC says the decision to force the Chief Justice to proceed on leave pending retirement is the most disastrous that lacks depth as well as content in the eyes of the law and public policy.
“In light of the doctrine of separation of powers such communications on forced leave raise a lot of eyebrows, especially now that Malawi will hold Fresh Presidential Polls. The timing for such a decision is simply wrong. The conduct by the Chief Secretary is a deliberate disregard for constitutional values for which this country strives to uphold,” reads part of the letter issued on Monday evening.
Thawale and Matonga further state that the decision by Muhara and government to send the Chief Justice on leave pending retirement is unfortunate and defeats the logic on assertions made by leaders, including President Peter Mutharika, that they would respect the rule of law in the just-ended Presidential Elections case.
The duo says PAC is vehemently against attempts by the Executive to subject the judiciary to political influences in the current political dispensation.
“The Executive should not stoop so low in the execution of decisions relating to democratic governance. PAC therefore wishes to reiterate that respecting court ruling is a bedrock for the rule of law.
“The core of the long-standing principle of the rule of law remains that all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by law. As we stated prior to court ruling, in a country divided by differences of region, tribe, language and religion, the rule of law remains one of the greatest unifying factors.”
PAC has further condemned actions, which are likely to cause social unrest if not properly checked.
Thawale and Matonga have since cautioned the Executive against testing the waters ‘at this critical juncture because the public’s patience is running thin’.
Meanwhile, the Zomba Catholic Secondary School Alumni Limited has expressed regret that its WhatsApp screenshot, which has gone viral on the social media, has been misunderstood by the public.
The group’s chairperson Jolly Nkhonjera and secretary Chancy Gondwe have issued a letter in which they say when the Government through the Chief Secretary to the Government published the Public Notice titled ‘proceeding on leave pending retirement’, members on the Box 2 Alumni Forum started discussing it and that their members requested to see the alleged Public Notice.
However, when the Public Notice was shared on the group, Dr T. Mpinganjira [referring to Thom Mpinganjira of the FDH] saw it at 07:02 and thanked the one who shared it by using clapping hands emoji.
Some of the members mistook the ‘clapping hands’ that Mpinganjira was celebrating the ouster of the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
“This was not celebration at all, but rather acknowledgement of receipt. Most members on the forum use clapping hands emoji as acknowledgement of receipt. Dr T. Mpinganjira never uttered any statement or comment thereafter until he left the group,” Nkhonjera and Gondwe say in their letter.
They say Box 2 Alumni WhatsApp group is a group that comprises professionals from various sectors and the group is apolitical.
“Dr. T. Mpinganjira never celebrated about this public notice. It is therefore not true that Dr T. Mpinganjira celebrated over this Public Notice. It is therefore wrong to continue peddling such misinformation,” clarifies the letter.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :