President Lazarus Chakwera has told Malawi News through Times Television’s ‘Times Exclusive’ program that he gets counsel from a wide range of appointed people including the Office of the Attorney General (AG) but that the final decision is his to make.
Chakwera was responding to questions on a range of issues, including that there seems to be unnecessary misunderstandings between his office and that of his AG Chikosa Silungwe following the leakage of his legal opinions on national issues.
Chakwera said the government machinery had its own way of working.
“People in different offices play the role of giving me their opinions [including] the AG, being the legal adviser to government. I take different pieces of advice from different people but others [the public] are of the view that when a piece of advice is not taken then the working relationship is bad.
“When one is given advice, they are at liberty to choose whether to take it or not. I take counsel from a lot of people but I also look at the public interest, the common Malawian. The AG knows the country’s laws and even the AG knows that the one who makes a decision is the President,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Chakwera fired two Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) commissioners Linda Kunje and Jean Mathanga on grounds that the Supreme Court of Appeal found them incompetent in how they handled the May 21 2019 Presidential Election.
On September 28 2020, the AG gave his legal opinion to the Office of the President and Cabinet, advising it not to fire Kunje and Mathanga.
The two commissioners dragged to court Chakwera and Mec for not offering them appointment letters, allowances, honoraria and related benefits dating back June 7 2020, when the Tonse Alliance-led administration took power from the Democratic Progressive Party.
However, following Chakwera’s decision, the AG advised Mec Chairperson Judge Chifundo Kachale to suspend the whole commission.
Apart from the issue of counsel which advisers offer, Chakwera has also addressed the question of his administration’s alleged delay in implementing some of the promises the Tonse Alliance made during campaign.
“We are laying our foundation and this is what is giving me hope that, having laid the foundation, things will change. Malawians need to know that things are changing and know that things are not as they were. I have driven so many things and we all know the start-off speed is not the same when the journey actually starts,” he said.
Chakwera added that the purported disunity in the Tonse Alliance-led administration was among supporters, indicating that the leaders understand each other.
“We agree on how we should move as an alliance but, at our supporters’ level, the unity is not there; that is why we are, time and again, rebuking these tendencies. As leaders, everything is going on well. The alliance has nine parties and, as such, all supporters from these parties ought to live in peace. My plea to Malawians is that Tonse Alliance should not just be for nine parties but rather the whole country. At party level, I delegate to talk to the relevant people,” he said.
In regards to delayed appointment of heads of parastatals, Chakwera said he appointed professionals who are handling the matter in a manner that would ensure all legal requirements were met.
Asked on the Cabinet assessment, which was he promised to make within five months of appointing Cabinet ministers, the President said he was a servant leader who went back to his word.
“From my heart, I want to tell Malawians that, if I promise something, I will follow through my words and when I fail to achieve something within the stipulated time I will come back and give an update. Malawians should know that they have a president who wants his dealings in the open. The Cabinet reshuffle will happen; people should be patient,” he said.
The programme airs tonight from 8:30pm on Times Televison, Times 360 Malawi Facebook page and Times Radio.