The High Court in Mzuzu will on January 12 2016 decide the case where four members of Parliament (MPs) are challenging the appointment of Fiona Kalemba as Clerk of Parliament (CoP).
The four MPs—Harry Mkandawire (Mzimba West, People’s Party-PP), Kamlepo Kalua (Rumphi East, PP), Peter Chakwantha (Lilongwe South West, Malawi Congress Party-MCP) and Enoch Chihana (Rumphi Central, Alliance for Democracy-Aford)—on November 19 obtained an injunction that stopped Kalemba from taking oath of office.
Kalemba’s appointment attracted protests from opposition politicians after it was learnt that she emerged third during the interviews for CoP conducted by Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) in October.
High Court judge Charles Mkandawire allegedly came first followed by Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) executive secretary Grace Malera. However, President Peter Mutharika chose Kalemba and defended his decision, citing her legislative drafting experience.
On Tuesday, the court sat for a judicial review after lawyers for the MPs and State made submissions on the case.
Initially, the judicial review was scheduled to take place on December 15 with judgement planned for December 18. However, the earlier date was found not ideal; hence, the court adjourned the case to yesterday to allow the parties time to make submissions.
Speaking in an interview after the court adjourned, lawyer representing the MPs, Wesley Mwafulirwa, said his clients challenge the appointment because the President did not follow the Constitution in recruiting Kalemba.
Among other reliefs, the MPs want Mkandawire to be appointed CoP based on merit.
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Apoche Itimu, who was present at the court for the hearing alongside Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, said there are several grounds on which the State is defending the appointment of Kalemba.
She said the President is the one who is supposed to appoint CoP and there are a number of factors that he has to consider when making appointments.
Itimu said the merit system under Section 11 of the Parliamentary Service Act which the MPs want applies only to PSC officers and in this case the officers were not the appointing authorities. n