The news that Malawi High Court sitting in Mzuzu has ruled that Minister of Agriculture, Mr. George Chaponda, should be suspended pending outcome of the investigation into the maizegate scandal has been welcomed with jubilation. For ‘well-wishing’ Malawians, Chaponda’s ‘suspension’ is overdue and the courts must be patted on the back for making such a bold judgement!
It is for this that I would like to be counted as a not-so-well-wishing Malawian. I personally consider the ruling as a sign that the courts have overstepped their mandate and are sailing towards a dangerous precedence. Taking a treacherous path that will, in the end, only have the Courts smiling but the nation wailing.
The Constitution is very clear on who has the mandate to hire, fire and presumably suspend a minister.
Section 95 (2) of the Malawi Constitution clearly affirms that the President possess “the power to remove Ministers or Deputy Ministers from their posts” just as Section 94 gives him the mandate “to appoint Ministers or Deputy Ministers and to fill vacancies in the Cabinet.”
I am trying to come into terms with the section the Court has interpreted where they can rule to have a minister suspended.
The danger of letting this precedent be set is that it is the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, that we are trampling on; and the separation of power that is expected to be respected by all arms of the government.
We might be jubilant today, celebrating because it is Chaponda – a villain – whom the Courts have decided to punish. Tomorrow, it will be us on the sad end of the Courts’ wrath.