Fulfill Promise of Trimming Presidential Powers

Today, CDEDI held a press briefing in Lilongwe to call President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to fulfill his campaign promise of scrapping off presidential immunity as one way of fighting corruption. 

CDEDI Executive Director Mr. Sylvester Namiwa noted that no one forced Dr. Chakwera to make that promise during the campaign hence he must fulfill it before Malawians label him as a liar. 

Mr. Namiwa was accompanied by two concerned citizens Ms. Zainab Hassan and Mr. Wells Khama

Below is the full statement delivered during the briefing.

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SAY NO TO PRESIDENT LAZARUS CHAKWERA'S SUGAR-COATED PROMISES AND LIES

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), hereby challenges President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera that Malawians will not allow him and his Tonse Alliance Administration to get away with their sugar-coated pre-June 23 2020 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election (FPE) campaign promises that smack of lies.

We take this position in the wake of events and activities that were lined up to commemorate the Africa Day Against Corruption which falls on July 11 every year. Put bluntly, it was a missed opportunity on both the President and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma, who should have taken advantage of the ceremony to rekindle and raise the hope in Malawians that a corrupt-free Malawi was possible, and that it had to start with them!

Ironically, the day was commemorated exactly seven days after CDEDI wrote President Chakwera on July 4, 2022, reminding him to re-affirm his commitment towards walking the talk on zero-tolerance on corruption, as per the fourth pillar of his Super-Hi5. CDEDI’s letter was a reminder to the President to honour his promise on trimming presidential powers by, among other means, directing the office of the Attorney General (AG) and the Law Commission, to start the amendment process of Section 91 of the Constitution.

By scrapping off presidential immunity, Dr. Chakwera would not only have delivered on one of his flagship campaign promises, rather he would have also made a bold statement that he was not entangled in any corruption scandals that have rocked the country in the two years of his leadership, as some quarters fear.

CDEDI and, indeed, many well-meaning Malawians, therefore, expected the President to seize the opportunity of gracing the Africa Day Against Corruption open day activities held in Dedza, to declare total war on corruption by announcing that he has moved the system to amend Section 91 of the Constitution, which shields first citizens from criminal prosecution while in office.

CDEDI would like to put it to President Chakwera that changing tunes and dragging his feet on removing presidential immunity strengthens fears that first citizens entangle themselves in corrupt activities; hence, it's safer remaining immuned. It is against this narrative that CDEDI will not relent but pile pressure on Dr. Chakwera to either scrap off the presidential immunity, or come out in the open and accept that he is compromised in the fight against corruption and, therefore, not fit to continue serving in the high office.

It is strongly feared that President Chakwera's heavy political influence has culminated into arm-twisting on ACB director general, madam Chizuma. A classic example being the case where soon after the arrest of the former Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Kainja, the ACB's chief legal and prosecutions officer Mr. Victor Chiwala publicly told Malawians that four more arrests, in relation to the same alleged corruption scandal, would follow. Almost three weeks down the line, none of the 'four more' has been arrested. Given this scenario, who can be stopped from suspecting the President's hand working behind the scenes, controlling the ACB director general, for obvious fears.

It is for this reason that CDEDI is reminding madam Chizuma that Malawians have put under the microscope any action and word from the ACB, and there are some glaring traits of political manipulation in the way the bureau has been conducting its business lately. We can safely speculate that the appointing authority has put spanners in the works of the bureau as regards the promised four more arrests.

In the same vein, CDEDI hereby reminds the ACB director general that all eyes are on her, waiting for the day the alleged high-profile case involving a British businessperson Zuneth Sattar will be tackled with the urgency it deserves. The ACB should be mindful that Malawians cannot wait forever, since there are many other equally interesting cases awaiting the bureau's attention!

Last, but not the least, CDEDI is reminding Dr. Chakwera that he has six more days to act on Section 91 of the Constitution, or brace for nationwide demonstrations to force him to start honouring his flagship campaign promises. It is high time politicians stopped taking Malawians for granted! Dzuka Malawi dzuka!