- Gives public servants in politics 7days
- Let me consult—Dausi
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have given government seven days to fire all public servants who are actively involved in partisan politics.
Notable among those government is being called to act on are governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members Attorney General Charles Mhango, Chimwemwe Chipungu, Clement Mwale and Hebrews Misomali of Safe Motherhood Initiative, as well as Mary Mainja, the public events manager.
Under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), the CSOs have threatened to take government to court should it not heed the call, stressing, it will not let anyone enjoy immunity just because they support the DPP.
The call follows government’s decision to fire former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s widow Callista and two others—George Saonda and Chiza Mbekeani—for allegedly engaging in active politics through their association with United Transformation Movement (UTM).
In a statement on Saturday, HRDC leaders led by Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence said they will not be hoodwinked into buying the cheap and partisan stunt government is playing in selectively firing its fierce critics.
They have expressed concern that it has taken government over three months to act on the matter since writing Capital Hill to fire all civil servants participating in active and partisan politics.
“While we commend government for firing civil servants that are practising partisan politics, it is very clear that, that is more of witch-hunting using the law and regulations selectively just to silence, punish and get back at those that hold a contrary view and opinion to DPP.
“We would like to pass a strong message to government that government laws and policies should never be applied selectively. Government laws, policies and systems should never operate at the mercy of someone,” reads the statement in part.
HRDC has also argued that government has been applying the same philosophy of selective justice even in the fight against corruption, enforcement of taxation laws and application of regulation laws by some institutions.
“All indications point to the fact that DPP government wants to make Malawians believe it is enforcing the regulations to the letter, but in real sense this noble initiative has, sadly, just been reduced to tit-for-tat vendetta settling scheme aimed at gagging government critics,” further reads the statement.
And it adds: “We, human rights defenders would, therefore, like to call upon the DPP-led government to fire all public servants who are actively involved in partisan politics, including those that are in DPP within seven days. Failure to heed to our call will leave us with no other option but to seek legal redress. We will not let anyone enjoy immunity just because they support the DPP. There is no room whatsoever for sacred cows.”
OPC Principal Secretary (Administration) Cliff Chiunda demanded a questionnaire, and when queried that he had earlier not responded to another questionnaire on the same matter, he said: “Just send me a questionnaire.”
By the time we went to press, he had not responded to the second questionnaire while Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said he needed to consult on the matter.
“It is a weekend, so I need to consult before responding; call me on Tuesday,” he said.
In an earlier interview, AG Mhango said he is not the first to be in that position while active in mainstream politics, claiming the law permits such a situation.
He said the argument against him would only be justifiable in a case where someone can prove that he has not provided fair advice, say to Parliament or members of the House, because of his affiliation to the DPP.
“In my scenario, the political party I am giving advice to is a ruling party; therefore, I do not see any conflict of interest. However, in my advice as Charles Mhango, I do not show my party colours because I advise the Speaker, I advise the Chief Justice and I advise all the three arms of government. I don’t, in my work, demonstrate any party colours,” he said.
In June this year, Chief Secretary to Government Lloyd Muhara issued a circular to all heads of government institutions advising civil servants who wish to seek political office to resign before doing so.
Just last month, Nation on Sunday exposed how the OPC failed to discipline Chipungu and Mwale for their active participation in politics.
Chipungu is DPP national organising secretary while Mwale contested for the position of secretary general at the DPP convention, but lost.
Civil Service Commission commissioner Yacinta Chikaonda is also vying for the Dedza East parliamentary seat by her own admission in an interview with our sister newspaper, The Nation.
Callista worked as presidential adviser on safe motherhood, while Saonda and Mbekeani served as director of administration in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and deputy director of administration in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs respectively.