The Human Rights Defenders Coalition vice-chairperson Gift Trapence has said they have instructed their lawyers to sue Law Commissioner Gertrude Hiwa to challenge any decisions she may have made after the expiry of her contract.
The coalition also wants to prosecute Chief Secretary to Government Lloyd Muhara for allowing Hiwa to continue working outside her contract.
According to Trapence, the legal action follows President Peter Mutharika’s move to defy a six-day ultimatum HRDC issued for him to appoint a new Law Commissioner to replace Hiwa, whose contract expired on June 23 2018.
However, State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani on Wedneday August 8 2018, said Hiwa has left her position as Law Commissioner and Mutharika has already considered her for another position in government which will be announced soon.
Said Trapence: “We have talked to our lawyers to take a legal action against Hiwa and the Chief Secretary. We would want to challenge in court the office decisions Hiwa made during the period when she had no contract at the commission.
“On the other hand, we will want the court to look at the decision by Muhara to extend her working period when it had expired and continued receiving benefits accrued to that office.”
Hiwa had also been involved in the process of receiving nominations for individuals to be appointed as commissioners of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) from CSOs.
As such Trapence said by virtue of Hiwa being substantively involved, the process is rendered unconstitutional, and would also be challenged in court.
But in an interview yesterday, Kalilani said the decision by the organisation to take the matter to court is a nullity, arguing, it has been overtaken by events.
“Mrs Hiwa has left her position as Law Commissioner. As we speak, His Excellency the President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has already considered her for another position in government. An announcement to that effect will be made shortly.
“As regards their claims on the processes leading to the appointment of Human Rights Commissioners in the country, the two individuals should not personalise the process or try to blackmail the system. Only individuals with respectable human rights work track record are considered for such appointments.”
Earlier, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Alfred Majamanda said the decision by Muhara to extend Hiwa’s term at the Malawi Law Commission after the expiry of her second five-year term was invalid.
In their August 1 2018 statement, the HRDC also demanded that all the benefits that accrued to Hiwa after June 23 2018 be repaid to government.
Monthly benefits that Hiwa has accrued since the expiry of her terms include a basic salary of around K1.4 million, fuel allocation of 600 litres, airtime allocation of K35 000 and medical aid scheme for her family worth K289 275.
The Law Commissioner also gets a gross pay of K520 130 as a commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission.