Government has started engaging Vice-President (VP) Saulos Chilima’s lawyers to settle a case in which the Veep wants three top government officials jailed for contempt of court for denying him benefits.
One of the lawyers at the Attorney General’s chambers, Neverson Chisiza, in an interview yesterday confirmed the talks, saying the case may not proceed in court if the two sides agree on the areas of disagreement.
He said: “We had an initial meeting where we agreed that the Inspector General of Police is complying. It was sorted out. But they had a number of issues with the Chief Secretary. They indicated a few things were outstanding on his part. We had a meeting with the Chief Secretary and Chilima’s lawyer.
“We have received today [Thursday] a letter from Chilima’s lawyers’ Soko and Company for a meeting Friday [today]. We are still finalising and in the end, if we meet all what they expect, there may not be any need for them to proceed with the case.”
The High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on February 3 this year reinstated Chilima at the end of a landmark elections petition case ruling which nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over irregularities.
However, Chilima complained to the High Court that despite the court ordering a return to pre-May 21 2019 constitutional order, the State was resisting to grant him his benefits as enshrined in the Constitution.
Chilima, through his lawyers, subsequently asked the court to order the arrest of the Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara, Acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa and Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Kaphale said he was not involved in the case and referred The Nation to lawyers in his office.
Chilima’s lawyer Khumbo Soko confirmed that the two sides were talking but did not provide details.
According to the Constitution, the President and Vice-President “shall receive such salary, allowance or pension as may, from time to time, be determined by an Act of Parliament in consultation with the President and shall have such adequate number of residences and personal staff, at State expense, as an Act of Parliament may prescribe”.
Among others, the VP is entitled to an official residence, security, aides, salaries and allowances, some of which Chilima is reportedly yet to receive.
In addition, Chilima is also reportedly yet to talk with government on his official roles with the administration currently focused on appealing the ruling that reinstated his tenure.
If the government opts to ignore the court ruling, however, it would not come as a surprise to many political observers.
Last year, following his fallout with the President, the State withdrew some of Chilima’s benefits and transferred almost all of his security detail.
When Chilima obtained a court order restraining the transfer of police officers, Malawi Police Service (MPS) interdicted the officers who obeyed the court order and denied them their full salaries and allowances.
Argued lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta who represented Chilima then: “The Act is very clear. It says the Vice-President shall be entitled to the salary, benefits and facilities prescribed in Part 2 of the Schedule. So, the entitlements are by virtue of being the Vice- President and not only when he is doing government work.
“The Act doesn’t say that. Whether he is attending a wedding or going to church or anywhere else, he is supposed to have those entitlements.”
In a phone interview, MPS spokesperson James Kadadzera refused to comment on the issue, saying it borders on security.