Caught Pants Down: Government responds to Kenyatta Nyirenda

Government has hit back at Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda who faulted President Peter Mutharika for making a declaration of a national disaster over the coronavirus without citing the law under which the declaration was being made.

Nyirenda in a ruling delivered on Friday, suggested that Mutharika did not mention the law because citing the law would have placed the authorities between a hard place and a rock.

“On one hand, there is the route of section 45 of the Constitution with its strict conditions, which conditions include obtaining approval from the Defence and Security Committee of the National Assembly.

“On the other hand, resort could be had to the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act which, as has already been observed is not only very much outdated (already raising the question of its compatibility with the Constitution) but its provisions are also not that useful,” said Nyirenda.

Today, the Ministry of Justice has defended the declaration saying Mutharika used Section 32 of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act.

“In making the Declaration, the President complied with section 32 of the Act and as required by that provision, caused the said declaration to be published in the Gazette as Government Notice No. 4 in the Malawi Gazette Supplement of 3rd April, 2020,” said Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala in a statement.

Masanjala added that the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act does not stop the president, as head of State and Government, from announcing any extraordinary measures as necessary in order to protect persons affected or likely to be affected by the disaster so declared.

Last month, Mutharika declared a state of national disaster over the coronavirus pandemic. As part of measures under the declaration, Mutharika banned public gatherings, closed schools and imposed travel restrictions on foreigners.

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