Parliament, CHRR want apolitical Attorney General
The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have called on Attorney General (AG) Charles Mhango to either vacate the position and concentrate on active politics or be apolitical.
Mhango continues to serve as legal adviser for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and has been campaigning for the position of Rumphi Central Constituency legislator.
Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Maxwell Thyolera, said Mhango should follow rules governing public sector management, including that which discourages public officers from being involved in active politics.
“Unless it was clearly defined when the appointment was made that he is also a Cabinet minister and [there was a clear] distinction between one holding the position as a minister and [an individual] holding the same position as a public officer, I think what is happening is abuse of office because, ordinarily, a public officer is not supposed to be engaged in active politics,” Thyolera said.
The Constitution stipulates that there shall be the office of the AG, who shall be the principal legal adviser to the government and that the office of AG may either be the office of a minister or may be a public office.
Thyolera said there is a possibility of including the issue as one of the items on the agenda of the committee meetings as a lot of people have raised the issue.
CHRR Executive Director, Timothy Mtambo, said, being the legal adviser of the three branches of the government [Legislature, Executive and Judiciary], the office of the AG is a professional one and needs a person whose standing cannot be questioned.
He said it is clear that Mhango is in a “wrong” position.
“It is better to have technocrats in that office because it is already questionable that, if DPP has any issues with anybody, he will protect the DPP because that is his party. So, in terms of professionalism, impartiality, all those principles are questioned and, if those principles are questioned, then he cannot operate in such an office,” Mtambo said.
The Malawi Law Society (MLS) already said the conduct of Mhango raises legitimate and practical questions.
And, in an interview yesterday, MLS Honorary Secretary, Michael Goba- Chipeta, said the society even wrote the AG on the issue but there has been no response.
Mhango told the media that he does not see any conflict between his political role and that of discharging the functions of the office of the AG.
The Constitution stipulates that the AG shall be subject to removal by the President on the grounds of incompetence, incapacity or being compromised in the exercise of his [or her] duties to the extent that his [or her] ability to give impartial legal advice is seriously in question.
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