A rights group has cautioned President Lazarus Chakwera against ignoring the legal opinion of the Attorney General (AG) Dr. Chikosa Silungwe on the status of the embattled Commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje.
The Chakwera administration has refused to offer letters of appointment to Mathanga and Kunje and the two have been going without salaries.
His decision is in conflict with the legal advice of Silungwe who recently wrote the State Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, advising him and all controlling officers to abide by the Republican Constitution before moving or indeed firing anyone from the public service.
And this has prompted rights group CDEDI to warn Chakwera that the organization and all well-meaning Malawians will hold Chakwera personally liable, together with the Secretary to the President and Cabinet and the Speaker of Parliament for the court remedies, in the event that the Mathanga and Kunje succeed in their court case.
The organization’s executive director Sylvester Namiwa has issued the warning in a letter dated February 13 and addressed to Chakwera.
“Your continued disregard of the Attorney General’s legal opinion, therefore, smacks of executive arrogance. Please note that should the two MEC Commissioners decide to take Government to court for unfair dismissal, CDEDI and all well-meaning Malawians will hold you personally liable, together with the Secretary to the President and Cabinet and the Speaker of Parliament for the court remedies, in the event that the two MEC Commissioners succeed in their court case. We do not want the implications of such shameful tendencies of impunity to be shouldered by the taxpayers, who are also the voters,” said Namiwa.
Namiwa says it is sad that in Chakwera’s determination to politically victimise the two commissioners, the President and the Speaker of Parliament have conspired to use Public Accounts Committee to attempt to legitimize the firing of the two commissioners.
He warned that Malawians will not be fooled by “these dirty tricks from someone who is supposed to be their president”.
“In fact, this is a shame for someone who vowed to protect the Republican Constitution. In any case and as opined by the Attorney General, we hope you are aware that by firing the two commissioners on the grounds of “incompetence” in the last cohort of commissioners, you will be nullifying your own Presidency. You should therefore not be surprised if Malawians go onto the streets to call for fresh elections, once you fire the two commissioners,” said Namiwa.
He also reminded Chakwera that the Tonse Alliance administration is running government today as beneficiaries of the same respect for the rule of law, as manifested by the landmark ruling delivered by the country’s Constitutional Court on the Presidential Elections case on 3rd February, 2020.
The landmark ruling found MEC commissioners who managed the elections to be incompetent. Mathanga and Kunje were part of that MEC commission but were reappointed by the Democratic Progressive Party.