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‘Peter Mutharika can be impeached’

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President Peter Mutharika’s purported flouting of the country’ Constitution could be enough ground for Parliament to move a motion for impeachment, Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has said.

The sentiments by the Committee’s Chairperson Lewis Chakwantha come in the wake of revelations that the Mutharika administration goofed when it by-passed Parliament to impose a moratorium on arrests and prosecution of people engaging in same-sex sexual activities.

According to Chakwantha, the moratorium was issued to affect an existing law being a product of legislative process, which is a violation of Section 48 of the Constitution which states that all legislative powers of the Republic shall be vested in Parliament.

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The Chairperson also indicated that Mutharika also literally snubbed Parliament when he was reminded to protect and uphold section 89(3c) which requires the head of State to appear before the House to respond to questions.

“My take is that Mutharika deserves to be impeached and if anything, allow natural justice to prevail by granting him the right to be heard before being condemned. If need be that nobody is unwilling to move the wheels of justice, I shall sacrifice my life and fortune just for this noble cause. We need leaders who respect their subject’s aspirations and Constitution, said Chakwantha in an interview with The Daily Times on Monday.

But constitutional law expert Edge Kanyongolo has said the issue is more complicated than it appears and can be argued in court.

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Kanyongolo told this paper in a separate interview that the same Constitution, sections 7 to 9, also gives Executive mandate to determine implementation of law.

“And again impeachment is about serious violation of the Constitution, so what constitutes serious violations? So perhaps it’s up to the courts to determine,” said Kanyongolo.

On his part, Leader of the House Francis Kasaila challenged Chakwantha to go ahead with the threats if he can amass two-thirds majority.

Kasaila, who said that Chakwantha was speaking in his personal capacity and not representing views of the committee, said there are procedures for  impeachment and no one can just wake up and do it.

Said Kasaila: “Intimidation will not work. Chakwantha is just a small person out there. This country is going through serious problems and we need serious minded people to help in turning things around and not intimidating us. I don’t remember anyone summoning the President to appear before Parliament. Maybe Chakwantha made such a request in the media.”

But Chakwantha insists that Malawians have a tendency of downplaying a lot of issues of national interest in their infancy even before starting to feel their implications, adding that most of the gestures so far demonstrated already by the incumbent, leads to one conclusion when taken at their accumulative effect level.

“When a question is posed as to whether the incumbent President has walked the pledge on the principle of openness and accountability, my take is negative. This government only cares to paint a rosy picture when it is the donor community at the door and not otherwise,” he said.

He also cited the controversial sale of the then state-owned Malawi Savings Bank, the delay to table access to information bill, besides the moratorium, as evidence that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led administration does not care about the supreme law of the land

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