A law expert has questioned the manner of President Peter Mutharika’s appointment of four High Court Judges, suggesting that the appointments seemed to have been made in a hurry.
On Thursday, Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet George Mkondiwa announced that Mutharika has appointed Joseph Chigona, Dorothy de Grabrielle, Ruth Chinangwa and George Bakuwa as high court judges.
Mkondiwa said the appointments were effective on the day of announcement, October 13 2016.
On presidential appointments, Section 90 of the Constitutions of the Republic of Malawi says “decisions of the President shall be expressed in writing under his or her signature” and “the signature of the President on any instrument shall be confirmed by the Public Seal.”
But writing in his blog, legal expert Sunduzwayo Madise questioned the way the appointments have been made considering that for Mutharika to have made the appointment while in New York, the Presidential Office need to have carried the whole Public Seal and Presidential Stationary with them to America – something which he found odd.
He also found it hard to understand why the president made the appointments on Thursday in New York yet he is expected back in the country today as government earlier announced.
“Why the rush? In any event, the appointed Judges cannot assume office unless they have taken oath in the presence of the President. So the personal presence of the President is crucial both to ensure that the statutory instrument is valid and that the oath of office has been taken,” wrote Madise.
Meanwhile, a message circulating on social media which Malawi24 could not independently verify claims that the appointment of the four judges has been done by Democratic Progressive Party politburo in a bid to bar Vice President Saulos Chilima from becoming acting president if Mutharika who is reportedly sick is declared incapacitated.
“Determined to wrestle power through courts, the emergency cabinet meeting that was convened a few days ago at Sanjika Palace chaired by DPP Vice President, George Chaponda resolved to start legal battles to fight the constitutional provision under section 87 subsection 1 which provides conditions for the Vice President of the country to assume Presidency where a seating President is deemed incapacitated,” reads part of the message.