Some Mzuzu City constituents have appended their signature to a petition calling on their Member of Parliament (MP), Leonard Njikho, to move a motion in Parliament to impeach President Peter Mutharika.
The petition being championed by taskforce co-Chairpersons Andrew Longwe and Sandra Kamanga, and purported to have been signed by 36,500 others, cites as grounds for impeachment contempt of court by the President when he continued delegating former minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda, for ministerial duties despite a court order stopping Chaponda from performing official duties, criminal negligence, illegal moratorium on homosexual laws and illegal arrest of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) MPs Jessie Kabwila and Peter Chakwantha over an alleged “treasonous and seditious” WhatsApp conversation.
In an interview with The Daily Times, Njikho described the petition as a non-starter not worth of any consideration.
“The President is my leader being a DPP member. It’s therefore a non-starter that I can even consider moving such a trivial motion against my own leader. It’s not going to happen, never,” Njikho said.
The petitioners gave their MP between February 24 and March 4 2017 to act.
“If the MP snubs our call to move the motion, we shall go to court to obtain a court order to force him to do so. He is our leader and should act on our interests over his,” Longwe said.
Reacting to the call for impeachment, Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalirani said he cannot comment on the matter as it is between an MP and his constituents.
“The correspondence is between the MP and his constituents. It is only fair that the MP should respond as he deems it fit,” Kalirani said.
Under the laws of Malawi, a sitting President can only be removed when he has been indicted by impeachment carried out in accordance with Parliamentary Standing Orders.
The Constitution, under Section 86, provides for impeachment on serious violation of the law.
To be successful, two-thirds majority of MPs are required to vote in the affirmative to impeach the incumbent.
Under the Parliamentary Standing Orders of 2013, an MP will require the support of a third of MPs in the House seven days before the motion to indict the President is made.
Recently, former minister in the People’s Party (PP) government Moses Kunkuyu, who is leader of the newly established political pressure group Transformation Alliance, called on Malawians to consider implementing impeachment against non-performing elected public officers.
Reacting to the Mzuzu petition on Sunday, Kunkuyu said it is within the people’s rights to call on their MP to act if they have reasonable grounds.
“Looking at some of the reasons raised such as the contempt of court, one would agree it’s a legitimate reason. However, the matter should not be abused as a tool of political bickering,” he said.
In the history of multiparty Malawi, former presidents Bakili Muluzi and Bingu wa Mutharika were earmarked for impeachment, but survived.
Some civil society organisations wanted Muluzi impeached for his intention to amend the Constitution to run for third term in office in 2003 while Mutharika risked the chop for using state funds to campaign for the 2004 general elections under the United Democratic Front ticket.
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