Pressure mounts on MCP publicist Kabwila to resign from University of Malawi

Pressure is mounting on University of Malawi’s (UNIMA) Chancellor College Senior Lecturer, Dr. Jessie Kabwila to resign following her joining of frontline politics.

The vocal lecturer and human rights activist was appointed publicity secretary in the new National Executive Committee (NEC) of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) announced by the party’s President Dr Lazarus Chakwera.

University of Malawi Registrar Benedicto Okomaatani Malunga said as per requirements Kabwila is supposed to relinquish her position at UNIMA to avoid creating conflict of interest.

According to Malawi Government, any public servant is supposed to resign from her or his position once they engage in active politics.

Kabwila: MCP spoksperson says she won't resign
Kabwila: MCP spoksperson says she won’t resign

However, Kabwila has vehemently refused to do so arguing she does not expect her case to be treated differently when several other public servants including those from UNIMA have had party positions while continuing to work and nothing happened to them.

The new MCP spokesperson challenged that she was not daft to join active politics and accept a senior position in the party without reading what her conditions of service at UNIMA stipulate as regards to one joining active politics.

Kabwila”s response has sparked debate among local journalists through their professional body, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) forum where majority are of the view that the activist must resign otherwise she would not be taken seriously as an activist.

Her joining of frontline politics contravenes Section 193 of the country’s constitution which states of the independence of the civil service.

According to Chancellor College’s Associate Law Professor, Edge Kanyongolo, it is undesirable for civil servants to take active part in politics because the development is likely to compromise the neutrality of government.

But veteran private practice lawyer Viva Nyimba  (now a senior Magistrate) has argued that “the constitution does not bar public servants from active politics but civil servants in the core government departments governed by the civil service commission.

“Jessie is not in the core government department and is not governed by the civil service commission established by the constitution,” observed Nyimba.

Reports indicate the outspoken lecturer is also set to contest as Member of Parliament (MP) on her party’s ticket at her home in Salima. She is, however, yet to confirm the rumour.

Kabwila shot to stardom in 2011 during late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration when she almost singlehandedly fought for academic freedom for UNIMA lecturers, particularly those from Chancellor College.

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