Renowned lawyer has issued a stern warning saying Malawi is passing through “dangerous times” that could turn the country into a police state following the arrest of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson, Jessie Kabwila which the lawyer described as illegal.
Sunduzwayo Madise, a legal scholar currently doing a PhD in the UK, issued the warning following the conduct of the Malawi police leading up to the arrest of Malawi Congress Party spokesperson, Jessie Kabwila, with treason.
Armed police officers mounted a roadblock within Parliament premises to nab Kabwila and Parliament Legal Affairs Committee chairperson, Peter Louis Chakhwantha. The two were previously said to have been charged with sedition.
Madise said the police contravened against the Constitution as they neither have the mandate to “manufacture a treason charge only for the purposes of affecting an arrest” nor powers to “invade parliament” in regards to the sedition charges.
“The Police cannot invade Parliament and violate its immunity on a sedition charge. That would not only be illegal but also unconstitutional. It would pity two arms of government against each other: the executive under whose authority the police operates and the legislature; the only body empowered to make law” wrote Madise on his Facebook.
Under Section 60, the Malawi Constitution asserts that except in the cases of treason, the speakers and parliamentarians are “privileged from arrest while going to, returning from, or while in the precincts of the National Assembly”.
For this, Madise argued: “Police invasion of Parliament is not something to be taken easily in a Constitutional democracy…In any event, the Police cannot try treason offences. That is the purview of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)”.
Kabwila, who was granted bail this morning, has now been charged with treason. However, Madise insisted that the police do not have the legal mandate to either proffer treason charges or grant bail to a person charged with treason. He said this rests in the arms of the DPP.
Kabwila, Chakhwantha and another MCP member, Ulemu Msungama, are accused of planning protests similar to the ‘Arab Spring’ with the aim of ousting President Peter Mutharika.