Attorney General Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda has backed the appointment of Professor Blessings Chinsinga, as Minister of Local Government, saying the President has not flouted any law.
Until his appointment, he was teaching political and administrative studies at University of Malawi (Unima).
On Monday, Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi announced the drafting of Jacob Hara as Minister of Transport and Public Works and Chinsinga into Cabinet raising questions on regularity of the latter in accordance with Section 94 sub-section 3 of the Constitution.
Section 94 reads in part: “No person shall be qualified to be appointed as a minister or deputy [if] under subsection (e) holds or acts in any public office or appointment, except where this Constitution explicitly provides that a person shall not be disqualified from standing for election solely on account of holding that office or appointment, or where that person resigns from that office in order to stand.”
Chakaka-Nyirenda said the provision was further interpreted by the High Court and since there was a staycation of the employment with Unima, he ceased to be a public officer at the time of appointment.
He cited a ruling by Justice Dustain Mwaungulu in the case of Jessie Kabwila vs. Malawi Electoral Commission where Kabwila, who was once a lecturer at Unima, was allowed to vie for position as member of Parliament since she was on sabbatical leave and prior to this was not part of formulation of government policies.
“Under the Constitution, the courts have the legal mandate to interpret the law and certain provisions have been subject to court interpretation by several other cases. If we apply the aforementioned case, there is nothing wrong that [has] happened with regard to his appointment,” he said.
On his part, Unima lecturer in political science and management studies Ernest Thindwa has described Chinsinga as being capable for the role due to his academic experience and achievements.
He said: “For so long, we have seen ministers being chosen based on political and not criteria of which now we have seen has not been the case. Chinsinga is very capable and we believe given enough support to perform to his best capabilities, the results of this appointment will be great.”
Thindwa added it was long overdue and perhaps time for President Lazarus Chakwera to consider reshuffling and replacing other members of the Cabinet based on their capabilities so that all other ministries run smoothly.
But Malawi Law Society president Patrick Mpaka disputed the appointment yesterday advising that the circumstances of the appointment of Chinsinga be examined in order to determine its legality.
He said: “Section 94 [subsection 3 paragraph e] is a mandatory constitutional provision which is very plain in prohibiting the appointment of holders of any public office into Cabinet, unlike Section 51 subsection 2 paragraph e which clearly allows an aspiring MP to first resign from a public office in order to stand as MP.”