When it was announced that the State Vice President Saulosi Klaus Chukima will address Malawians on emerging issues, UTM media team took the social media by storm hyping the would be bomb-shell address.
However, come Friday morning the speech seems to have not measured up to the general expectation of the “praise team” and the nation at large.
Personally, when I first heard about the national address I thought to myself that this will be a make or break for the Vice President depending on how he will articulate the so-called emerging issues. Truly the address dented his political future and put his credibility to question.
As the dust is settling the reality is creeping in, such that even his supporters have now started waking up to the realisation that their leader sold them hot air. What they hoped for was not what was delivered.
This far the verdict by a majority of Malawians is that the national address was self-defeating as no single issue of national importance was addressed apart from self-incrimination in the Sattar corruption case and expressing self-glorification.
The most unfortunate thing from his address was his decision to embark on a dangerous road by advocating the removal of the presidential immunity.
By this call, Chilima was not only bringing the presidency into disrepute, he was reducing the presidency into a nonentity. But it is understandable that he looked into this issue with a narrow prism.
The Vice President carries himself as a sophisticated person but he is not as well versed in a number of disciplines as we are meant to believe. On his recent visit to the USA our Vice President literally failed to explain domestic and foreign policy Malawi follows. This has been brought into equation to better explain the mind of a man who was addressing Malawians on Friday.
Word by word this is what the vice President said on the removal of immunity for the president: “While we salute the fact that the Vice President of this country can, and must be investigated or prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing, it is completely misplaced that Presidents of this country have a veil of constitutional protection from criminal wrong through immunity while in office.”
In case people did not notice, the Vice President contradicted himself in his speech. At some point the Vice President said he has no intention to bring discord in the Executive arm of government which he is party to.
He said: “There can only be only one President of the Republic at a time. All of us must rally our support in unison as the President leads the nation on a very difficult path towards prosperity. It would be remiss of me to be seen to be pulling in a different direction for political reasons for political convenience, creating discord in the Executive leadership of this country and in the process, shifting the national focus from which government exists.”
This is so funny because by calling for the removal of immunity for the President, he is already bringing discord in the Executive arm of government. His actions also demonstrate that he is pulling in the opposite direction for political reasons. This is a contradiction which throws his credibility into doubts. In that case, how can one trust this person?
For starters, what the Vice President is doing is blackmail guided by retribution. But even in that quest in trying to bring President Chakwera into disrepute, Chilima is forgetting that President Chakwera is only the holder of the office like Kamuzu Banda, Bakili Muluzi, Bingu Wa Mutharika, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika before him. The mistake the VP is making is personalizing the office of the President. He sounded as if the presidency is Chakwera, not an institution.
I expected a person of his caliber to understand that the concept of immunity is a common practice in almost every country in the world. I stand to be corrected but, I do not know any country in the world where a sitting President is liable for prosecution. Perhaps his case could have made sense if he had cited an example of a country where this happens.
The rationale of providing immunity to the President was not established to prove an escape route to evade prosecution when a President is in power and is caught up in any wrongdoing, the idea is meant to preserve the sanctity of that “high office”.
The practice of exempting the President is premised on two grounds. The first one is that the Presidency is a demanding job, which requires holders of the office to have undivided attention on issues he was elected for. Secondly, constitutionally the office as per law is supposed to be treated with respect from the citizenry and subjecting it to indictment or prosecution degrades that respect.
The call for the removal of presidential immunity brings into the equation the academic argument where one political philosopher Thomas Hobbs argues that in the event of a sovereign or the state President standing trial for any action, the presidency will be put into disrepute and anarchy could follow.
Hobbes was of the view that people’s hunger for power always threatens the safety of the presidency. Thomas Hobbes lived many centuries ago but he was able to predict the nature of men like Chilima who whose hunger for power threatens the safety of the country. Over the years his ideas have evolved and have been universally accepted to become what we call immunity. Essentially immunity brings both peace and safety in a country.
Again, as a country we should strive to enact laws which are in the best interest of the country not feeding into an individual’s political interest. Since the President was voted into power he championed the passing of the access to Information Bill. In the past Parliament repealed the archaic and punitive law which empowered a cabinet minister to ban a publication deemed to write stories that were not in the good taste of the government. Following court orders Parliament passed the 50+1 law. All these laws are in line with the aspirations of Malawians not an individual, the way the Vice President is doing.
There was a scenario in the United States in 2001. After the bombing of the twin tower the (Pentagon and the World Trade Centre) in New York on September 11, the US Congress hastily passed a legislation which empowered the police to search homes of people suspected of criminal offences.
The idea was to launch the crackdown on terrorist suspects. But excitement about the legislation did not last because of the growing calls to repeal the Act as it victimized innocent people and consequently. The law was thought to be in breach of the Fourth Amendment, a constitutional provision in the US constitution established to protect people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
It is good that the excitement has died down, senses are prevailing and even his supporters can agree that their leader said so many things yet he said nothing.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :