10 September 2020
Pressure mounted this week on former Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Lloyd Muhara with practicing lawyers and legal scholars asking for his dismissal.
You don’t have to worry much that Muhara’s position took a new and strange name, Chief Secretary to Cabinet and Government. Basically, the nomenclature defeated the whole essence of separation of powers where the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature arms of government are supposed to be independent of each other.
The lawyers and legal scholars have written the Malawi Law Society (MLS) that the appointment to that office was unconstitutional and his acceptance of the position was constructive resignation from the judiciary. He seized to be a judge there and then.
The other ground, the lawyers say, is that while serving in that position, he did ‘many things that constituted an attack on the judiciary or placed him in a position that made him unfit for judicial office’.
One of the things that has for a time been a thorn in the flesh of the legal minds is that at the peak of his occupation of the office, Muhara wrote Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, technically his very boss, to go on forced leave pending retirement. He also wrote Supreme Court Judge Edward Twea to go on the same leave pending retirement.
There is possibility that following a response from the MLS of purpoted wrong doing, the Judicial Service Commission will be moved with proceedings to look into Muhara’s tenure as a judge.
The arguments raised are serious enough, and we all wait to see what will become of Muhara. Judges can only be fired through impeachment in Parliament.
It is predictable that Muhara cannot do what would save us so much trouble by resigning. But then, that poses a threat on public trust, even for the mere fact that his acts were questioned openly by those in the fraternity.
In the past, we have seen judges being crucified by the ruling elite, but we all know how such hegemony has ended in the desert.
With the matter coming from the lawyers, who once went on the street to show solidarity against attacks on the Judiciary, it was best Muhara let go. The very writing the CJ to retire was a clear indication he was taking a side, since at the time Nyirenda was presiding over a crucial case where the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) were challenging against a Constitutional Court ruling that called for fresh elections.
That as it is, President Lazarus Chakwera on Thursday went to Parliament to take questions from members of the House, following his promise that he would follow the Section 89 (C) of the Constitution. As he did so, his vice Saulos Chilima was on the sidelines, waiting for his turn on Friday.
Since Bakili Muluzi made a similar attempt during the first session of during his first term, this was a refreshing moment as it demonstrates how far Chakwera is going to demystify the presidency.
Healthy debate is necessary, if democracy and development are to sail in the same boat. Dialogue is a must. Of course, at times, the Chakwera move to address the nation every week has backfired as he has at times addressed issues that could have been left unsaid, or tackled by members of his Cabinet. And last Saturday, it appears the President had nothing tangible to say, as he was coming straight from delivering the State of the Nation Address (Sona) the previous day. That was clear because the Saturday ‘address’ was just a copy and paste endeavour from a few paragraphs from the Sona.
But I digress.
Chakwera’s appearance in Parliament brought enlightment that the President is not supposed to be a closet leader. He came into the House, fully armed to stand by whatever he delivered.
The wish, nonetheless, is that this will not be the last of the President’s appearance in the House.