CDEDI has today sent a letter to President Lazarus Chakwera on his attempt to fire the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioners namely; Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje. In this letter, CDEDI is calling president Chakwera to take heed of advice from the Attorney General’s (AG’s) memo which advised the controlling officers to abide by the Republican Constitution before moving or indeed firing anyone from the public service.
13th FEBRURY 2021
The Office of the President and Cabinet,
ATT: DR. LAZARUS CHAKWERA, MALAWI STATE PRESIDENT
Cc: THE SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET
Cc: THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MALAWI JUDICIARY
Cc: THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MALAWI HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Cc: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
RE: REMINDER ABOUT YOUR COMMITMENT TO RESPECT THE COUNTRY’S RULE OF LAW
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has been compelled to write your good office, Your Excellency Sir, following recent actions by the Public Appointment Committee (PAC) of parliament to debate the firing of two Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioners namely; Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje.
Firstly, CDEDI felt duty bound, as human rights advocates and defenders of the rule of law to write your office on what we see as a gross violation of the rule of law and the rights of these commissioners by your Administration.
Secondly, CDEDI would like to bring to your attention a memo from the Attorney General’s (AG’s) office, which was a legal opinion to the office of the Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima, advising him and all controlling officers to abide by the Republican Constitution before moving or indeed firing anyone from the public service. In addition, CDEDI is aware that even within the Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) Constitution and manifesto, there is a pillar on respect for the rule of law.
CDEDI is further reminding you, Sir, that the Tonse Alliance administration is running government today as beneficiaries of the same respect for the rule of law, as manifested by the landmark ruling delivered by the country’s Constitutional Court on the Presidential Elections case on 3rd February, 2020.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, CDEDI and all well-meaning Malawians are dismayed by the actions of your own office to disregard the rule of law as exemplified by your continued refusal to grant letters of appointment to these two commissioners despite the AGs legal opinion and your current shenanigans to fire the two MEC Commissioners through the Public Appointments Committee of parliament (PAC).
Your Excellency will recall that CDEDI delivered a petition to your office through the district councils of Lilongwe and Blantyre which among other things, clearly requested you not to sit on the Attorney General’s legal opinion on the appointment of the two commissioners, but to act on it by issuing appointment letters to the two MEC Commissioners as opined by the AG.
Your Excellency Sir, the decision by your office and that of the Secretary to the President and Cabinet to ignore the Attorney General’s legal opinion vindicates our earlier stand that your action is a clear case of political victimisation coupled with your nepotistic tendency.
Your Excellency, it is sad that in your determination to politically victimise the two commissioners, you and the Speaker of Parliament have conspired to use PAC to attempt to legitimise the firing of the two commissioners. Malawians will not be fooled by these dirty tricks from someone who is supposed to be their president. In fact, this is a shame for someone who vowed to protect the Republican Constitution. In any case and as opined by the Attorney General, we hope you are aware that by firing the two commissioners on the grounds of “incompetence” in the last cohort of commissioners, you will be nullifying your own Presidency. You should therefore not be surprised if Malawians go onto the streets to call for fresh elections, once you fire the two commissioners.
In the interest of transparency and accountability, CDEDI is reminding you Sir, that you are not the law, and neither are you above the law. Your continued disregard of the Attorney General’s legal opinion, therefore, smacks of executive arrogance. Please note that should the two MEC Commissioners decide to take Government to court for unfair dismissal, CDEDI and all well-meaning Malawians will hold you personally liable, together with the Secretary to the President and Cabinet and the Speaker of Parliament for the court remedies, in the event that the two MEC Commissioners succeed in their court case. We do not want the implications of such shameful tendencies of impunity to be shouldered by the taxpayers, who are also the voters.
Lastly, Your Excellency may wish to know that ignoring legal opinion from the Attorney General which is a constitutional office undermines the authority of the office, a development which has the potential to drag the country into a banana republic where everyone does as it pleases them.