UTM to strip president of immunity to check against abuse of office — Usi

Vice president and running mate for UTM Party, Dr Micheal Usi,  has said his party will ensure when it gets to power there should be an  amendment of a constitutional provision that shields a sitting President from criminal prosecution, saying it gives the presidency licence to commit corrupt crimes.

Usi: UTM administration would remove presidential immunity from prosecution to check against abuse of office

Usi said this on Thirsday during the presidential running mates debate  ahead of  the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections at Chichiri International Conference Centre widely known as Comesa Hall in Blantyre.

The issue of removing the presidential immunity was first raised by Vice President Saulos Chilima, who is also UTM leader, and Usi  maintained during the debates that the presidency, whose occupants are employees of citizens, should not be immune from prosecution during their term of office.

Section 91 of the Republican Constitution 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.

Put to him by the debate moderator Joab Frank Chakhaza that the  provision was put in to allow a sitting President to focus on running the country not court appearances, Usi said  the removal of presidential immunityswould ensure accountability and sustenance of the constitutional principles that no one is above the law.

Usi also said  UTM administration will address the challenges in the lack of independence of the investigative and prosecutorial agencies and a corrupt political culture that reproduces itself.

He said said when a President is blatantly involved in corruption and fraud, it defeats the purpose of the presidency to uphold the rule of law.

Commenting on immunity scrap bid by UTM, governance expert Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that it’s an issue that Malawians need to debate on especially in the context of “Presidential thieving and corruption”.

He said: “While it is a fact that removing the immunity of the President may be abused by some citizens who may bring numerous lawsuits against the President in the process bringing a government to a standstill, the issue of the immunity of the Head of State and senior government officials has been contentious even at global and regional level especially when it comes to serious crimes that offend human dignity like those under the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which Malawi is also party to.”

Munthali added: “Perhaps as a country we should not only be wary about a country being brought to a standstill but also asking ourselves this question: should the Presidency be a safe haven where one can run to in order to escape justice over crimes such as corruption whose consequences put the lives of many Malawians at risk? One possibility would be to isolate those ‘serious’ crimes which the President can be prosecuted while in office and retaining immunity over ‘smaller’ crimes in order to mitigate the abuse of the removal of immunity. “

All  in all, Munthali said,  the issue needs a “national discourse” that takes into consideration the two realities he outlined.

In his take, Muhammed Sidik Mia of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) did not indicate if immunity would be removed.

Usi, Mia and Frank Mwenifumbo of United Democratic Front (UDF) all agreed that corruption was stifling development in the country.

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Chatonda
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Chatonda

Why cant you tell chilima to stop receiving salaries and benefits for doing nothing? That is corruption Mr Usi if you dont know

Nalingula
Guest
Nalingula

You oversimplify Things.So What ? Will the President Resign because he is being Sued ? Will he be Impeached.Ngati munthu Atokanika kusiya U Vice President namalandira makobiri aulere What more Mumpase U President. Osamaphwekesa.

Kanyimbi
Guest
Kanyimbi

President akumaba & akumatuma ana a dad azitola zedi m’Malawi muno & kuchotsa immunity kupulumutsa ndalama zathu ntheradi. Big up UTM.

Angoni apaphata
Guest
Angoni apaphata

Koma blatant theft of public resources the way the dpp and mutharika do is what is bringing up these ideas.

Chilungamo
Guest
Chilungamo

DPP thieves choose to lie that getting K145 million from amwenye is a classical example of BLATANT CORRUPTION. In fact returning it is an admission of wrong doing. And this is prosecutable.

Bwato
Guest

Shaaa Usi hi how are you going to trim the president yet you know already that you will not win a seat in your constituency. UTM will be in the opposition benches. Watch out mcp yatyaka Moto

Odya zake no case
Guest
Odya zake no case

Yayaka moto ndi cashgate penapake a mcp muzikhala ndi umunthu osati ubulutu 😀🤔

Kapado Chimuthawirenji
Guest

It a fallacy to wait until the President is out of office to face the law. What if s/he dies in office, how will you get justice? Our Parliamentarians are not robust enough to use the available avenues for punishing a sitting President. They need to engage an extra gear to ensure that there is sanity in every President by using impeachment as an alternative to filing a lawsuit against the sitting president.

BigMan
Guest
BigMan

If the US President can be sued and impeached etc…. Whats the fuss with taking someone like APM to task if found with a case to answer as in the MK145 million or Albino killings?

Sikusinja
Guest
Sikusinja

You can’t sue President while in office in the US for official acts.

Joovido
Guest
Joovido

President needs immunity but if policies are in order then definitely he or she will face the charges because five years is not a long time to hide. In doing so they will perform to the best of the publics expectations

ZOWO
Guest
ZOWO

What if he dies before finishing his term? immunity should really be removed if we are serious about fighting corruption..The sitting president should not be above the law that they can abuse state resources in whatever way they want..Its ridiculous to see mere bodyguards becoming billionaires within a space of 4 years when previously they had nothing to show simply because they are close to the president.

Chilungamo
Guest
Chilungamo

DPP is promoting mediocrity. Hard working individuals are languishing in poverty. Professionals, small-scale entrepreneurs, etc. The only people doing well are in Malawi are DPP thieves those linked to the president, not even all mulhankhos for that matter.

Ungwelu
Guest
Ungwelu

Quite correct. In fact what Manganya is saying is here is total rubbish. There should be proper systems of control and accountability NOT the useless promises he saying here. We were there before my brother. Cut it out!!