Malawi President Peter Mutharika has ignited a Constitutional Crisis by leaving Vice President Saulos Chilima out of the cabinet released yesterday night.
Through Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, President Peter Mutharika announced a cabinet reshuffle last night.
Inexplicably missing from the list is the name of Vice President Chilima who has staged a campaign to kick out the incumbent in the 2019 presidential race.
Mutharika has not given any reason as to why Chilima is not part of the cabinet, a backbone of the Executive Arm of government as the Malawi Constitution stipulates.
Under this Section 92, the Constitution states that the country shall have “a Cabinet consisting of the President, the First Vice President, the Second Vice-President and such Ministers and Deputy Ministers as may, from time to time, be appointed by the President”.
As set out under this section, Chilima is therefore an automatic member of the Cabinet who President Peter Mutharika has no prerogative powers to fire from. The Constitution also empowers Chilima as the Vice President to preside over Cabinet meetings “in the temporary absence of the President”.
Leaving Chilima’s name out of the Cabinet implies, therefore, that President Mutharika has booted his prodigal deputy from the Executive, thereby creating a Constitutional Crisis as the decision is clearly against the provisions of the Constitution which Mutharika has no mandate of amending.
Chilima and President Peter Mutharika are now sworn enemies. Chilima ditched the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in June this year to form his United Transformation Movement (UTM). He has been holding rallies lambasting the administration of Mutharika, accusing it of nepotism, corruption and scheming to rig the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The two are more likely to battle against each other in the 2019 presidential race.
In a related development, President Mutharika has also booted out Charles Mhango as Attorney General (AG). He has been replaced by Mutharika’s personal legal counsel, Kalekeni Kaphale.
A source privy to these developments, indicate that as AG, Charles Mhango opposed the idea of removing Chilima’s name from the Cabinet, a stance that drew the ire of President Mutharika.
The source said Mhango is also being blamed for UTM’s victory in the High Court where Chilima appealed against the decision by the Registrar of Political Parties to bar the movement from being registered as a party.
Following the appeal, the High Court ruled in favour of Chilima and UTM, ordering the Registrar to register UTM withing 7 days effect from September 21 2018. The ruling implies that UTM is officially registered and recognised as political party.
Attempts by Government to appeal and obtain an injunction against the registration were both unsuccessful. Mhango is accused of staging a weaker front to challenge UTM’s registration.
Mhango then opted to resign as AG.