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Lazarus Chakwera working on powers reduction

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President Lazarus Chakwera has reaffirmed his commitment to relinquish some of his presidential powers, in an effort to enhance the servant leadership which he has been popularising.

Director of Communications at State House and Executive Assistant to the President Sean Kampondeni said in an interview Wednesday that the discussions on the matter are ongoing with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

During his inauguration at Kamuzu Barracks, Chakwera said he would propose legislation to reduce the powers of the presidency and empower institutions to operate independently, including Parliament and the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB).

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According to Kampondeni, the President is already implementing reduction of his administrative powers, a month into office.

“The President’s discussions with the line ministry on reduction of presidential powers is ongoing; some reductions of powers are merely administrative, which the President is already implementing by identifying the areas of government administration that presidents have historically usurped from other institutions and ensuring that those powers are returned there,” Kampondeni said.

According to Kampondeni, the President remains steadfast in running a government which is transparent and accountable to the citizenry and that he will support legislative processes intended at aligning his vision for Malawi.

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“Other reductions of powers require legislative and constitutional amendments on which His Excellency will work with other stakeholders to start preparing various pieces of legislation for presentation to Parliament,” he added.

During campaign ahead of the June 23 presidential election, Vice-President Saulos Chilima repeatedly told Malawians that the Tonse government would reduce powers of the President to, among other things, enable people to remove the President from power if he is failing to deliver.

The move, according to media and communication expert Jimmy Kainja, would be a major step in Malawi’s democracy.

Letting go of presidential powers is a good move but depoliticising government and state operations and activities is far more important than many care to think,” Kainja said in an article published in 2015 when he reacted to then-president Peter Mutharika’s attempt to relinquish some of his powers as an area of reforms.

Meanwhile, youth rights activist Charles Kajoloweka said it is encouraging and a welcome development “that the current administration is going beyond rhetoric”.

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