The press on Friday reported the call by Vice-President Saulos Chilima to repeal the law which guaranteed immunity for Head of State from prosecution during their term of office, saying the President should face criminal proceedings for his actions.
According to Chilima, who is on record of saying corruption levels in government has reached ‘embarrassing levels’, said giving immunity to President from criminal prosecution gives the presidency licence to commit corrupt crimes.
Chilima said it did not make sense for an employee [occupant of the presidency] of citizens not to be charged or prosecuted for criminal acts carried out during the period of employment while the employers, Malawians, did not enjoy such a luxury.
“This provision is a licence for the presidency to conduct corrupt practices knowing he would not be prosecuted. I am calling for an amendment to this section in the Constitution if we are to truly fight corruption in this country,” he said as quoted by The Nation newspaper on Friday.
The paper quoted Malawian constitutional law commentator Professor Danwood Chirwa who argued that a criminal trial for a Head of State” could bring a government to a standstill.”
He also noted that at core of the challenges is the lack of independence of the investigative and prosecutorial agencies and “a corrupt political culture that reproduces itself.”
Malawi head of state enjoys legal protection from Section 91 of the Republican Constitution which gives immunity from civil lawsuits and criminal charges to a person holding the office of President or performing the functions of President.
Section 91 (2) reads: “No person holding the office of President shall be charged with any criminal offence in any court during his term of office.”
However, a former president loses immunity and is liable to prosecution for any acts done in his official capacity.
Nonetheless, Parliament has the power to move for an impeachment.
Chilima has accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to be riddled with corruption, nepotism and cronyism.
State House press secretary and spokesperson for President Peter Mutharika Mgeme Kalilani challenged Chilima to report to the ACB instead of making “wild corruption claims”.