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Let us reduce presidential powers

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One key campaign promise President Peter Mutharika made in 2014 was to reduce presidential powers on appointment and removal of heads of governance institutions and parastatals.

But time is a savage. The least it has done is tell Malawians that a pledge by an aspiring president can turn into nothing but rhetoric.

The Mutharika idiom has backfired. Stakeholders continue to call for trimming of the powers of holders of the highest office on the land, especially in appointing members of boards and key positions in parastatals and government institutions.

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As the old adage goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we cannot agree more with screams from the country’s streets that leaving absolute power to the president is risky.

It is not that Malawians are unaware of the hardships they endure for not sharing a common creed with those close to power.

Since time immemorial, prejudice has taken centre stage when one person decides the fate of multitudes. The Malawi political landscape is not spared.

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For so long now, Malawians have left all the powers to the president, but at owners’ risk.

A stop to favouritism and nepotism has been the general outcry of the larger section of the society in recent years, except for those close to the powers-that-be.

Presidents have, more often than once, openly abused their powers to hire and fire. They seem to be masters of all people’s fates.

We, could, therefore not agree more with one Rafiq Hajat of Institute for Policy Interaction that Malawi is for all.

First, the sitting president must set a precedent by honouring his 2014 campaign promise to relinquish some the presidential powers and pave the way for creation of an arm to be responsible for the hiring and firing of key people in government institutions.

And Parliament has the mandate to advocate change in the provisions of the laws that makes a single person a semi-god of some kind.

With the powers vested in them, members of the legislative arm of the government would play a pivotal role in addressing the growing concerns.

To the members of the civil society, and the public at large, we are mandated to hold our public officeholders accountable.

The least, what our silence would do is turn us into pawns on the chess-board of those in power.

Time to act is either now or never!

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