Calls are growing for President Lazarus Chakwera to act with urgency in filling positions of Attorney General (AG) and Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) Director General.
University of Malawi Professor of Law Edge Kanyongolo said leaving the office of AG vacant would negatively affect efficiency in the Ministry of Justice.
Kanyongolo said, as a constitutional office, the AG was the government’s principal legal adviser
“I think you should not remove the Attorney General unless you are going to replace him or her almost instantly. You do not leave vacant critical offices of State which are also constitutional, especially when there is no obvious reason why the office should remain vacant,” Kanyongolo said.
Lawyer Jai Banda said delays in appointing FIA DG “drastically derail” the functions of the authority in achieving its goals.
Banda said the authority is an autonomous authority established to fight money laundering
He feared that the vacuum makes it even impossible to appoint the Deputy Director General because the appointment is done in consultation with the DG.
“He or she [the DG] is the captain of the ship who is supposed to provide guidance and direction to all employees of the authority.
“The longer the office remains vacant, there is a vacuum of leadership at the authority,” Banda said.
Malawi Law Society President Patrick Mpaka said some positions were indispensable under the Republican Constitution.
“In a constitutional democracy, vacancies in constitutional offices reflect badly on commitments to the rule of law and constitutionalism,” Mpaka said.
According to Section 6(1) of the Financial Crimes Act, it is mandatory for the President to appoint a DG for a five-year term, subject to Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament’s approval.
Among other duties, FIA conducts research in trends in financial rimes, tracing proceeds of crime and prevention and deterrence of money laundering.
Meanwhile, the President’s Executive Assistant Sean Kampondeni has said Chakwera is aware of the urgency to appoint a new AG.
“The President is fully alive and sensitive to the urgency of appointing a new Attorney General. Candidates that the President is considering are being subjected to rigorous vetting and background checks,” Kampondeni said.
On the appointment of FIA DG, he said the speed of appointment did not depend on the President but on Pac, whose members have rejected two candidates presented to it in past six months.
On August 3 this year, Pac rejected acting FIA DG Vincent Chipeta for the position of director general.
Chakwera fired Chikosa Silungwe from the position of AG on July 21 this year and the position has remained vacant.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.