Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s exclusion in President Peter Mutharika’s new Cabinet which has been bloated by 60 percent announced on Thursday night is illegal, according to prominent legal scholars.
In the revised Cabinet, there was no mention of the Office of the Vice-President whose holder – Chilima- leads UTM Party which has now entered into electoral alliance with main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
In the past, the Vice-President was on the list after the Head of State first followed by by Cabinet ministers and deputies.
Legal scholars have explained that Section 92(1) of the Constitution makes it mandatory that the Vice President should be part of the Cabinet.
According to Danwood Chirwa, a professor of law at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, the Vice-President is elected by people alongside the President and unless the holder of that office resigns voluntarily, he or she remains the VP.
Edge Kanyongolo , an associate professor of law at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, is on record, saying the Cabinet list excluding the VP is legally inconsequential because it does not have any legal significance.
He said: “A list is just a list! This does not in any way affect the Vice-President’s position because the VP is not appointed into Cabinet, he is there already by virtue of the law.”
Governance expert Makhubo Munthali said it is common knowledge that the Presidency includes the President and the Vice-President.
“Chilima’s place in Cabinet is already guaranteed by virtue of his position as Vice President,” said
Section 79 of the Constitution says a Vice-President is elected alongside the President and “shall assist the President and who shall exercise the powers and functions conferred on the First Vice-President…by this Constitution or by any Act of Parliament and by the President.”
When the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sacked the then Vice-President Joyce Banda from the party in December 2010, she remained in office until the untimely death of president Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012.
Historically, there has been tension between Malawian Presidents and their Vice-Presidents predominantly over issues bordering on succession.
Since announcing that he was leaving DPP in June 2018, Chilima has not been seen at official events attended by the President.
The functions of the Office of the Vice-President in the country are predominantly delegated by the President.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :