By Jameson Chauluka:
Government has defended the omission of Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, from the Cabinet list which was released on Wednesday.
State House Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani was reacting to observations from some quarters including Malawi Law Society (MLS) that President Peter Mutharika’s new Cabinet contravened the Constitution by excluding the Office of the Vice President.
“The President does not appoint a vice-president into the Cabinet. He [vice president] is there courtesy of the Constitutional order. He does not need to be appointed into it by the President,” Kalilani said.
MLS earlier said Mutharika’s new Cabinet violated provisions of the Republican Constitution.
The Cabinet list which Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, released is said to have violated Section 92 (1) of the Constitution.
MLS President, Alfred Majamanda, quoted section 92 (1) which provides that a Cabinet shall consist of the President, the First Vice-President, the Second Vice-President and ministers and deputy ministers.
“The Vice-President was elected together with him [Mutharika] in 2014 so whether he is on the Cabinet list or not he remains the Vice-President. The question should be ‘is what has been done in compliance with the law?’ My answer is no because section 92 (1) of the country’s Constitution is clear on who should be in the Cabinet and there is no way the Vice-President can be left out,” he said.
Majamanda said, by law, the Vice-President has to be in the Cabinet whether he is in good terms with the President or not, adding that Chilima can challenge the new Cabinet list in court but that would entirely be his decision.
Chilima fell out with Mutharika after he declared that he would challenge him in next year’s tripartite elections.
In the new Cabinet, Mutharika has fired Anna Kachikho, who was Minister of Housing and replaced her with Jean Kalilani.
Henry Mussa is the new Minister of Information, replacing Nicholas Dausi who is Minister of Homeland Security, previously Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security.
Outspoken Democratic Progressive Party regional governor for the Southern Region, Charles Mchacha, is the Deputy Minister of Homeland Security.
Office of the Vice-President spokesperson, Milward Tobias, declined to comment on the development.