The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has backed the eligibility of academician Jessie Kabwila who is contesting in the forthcoming tripartite elections as a member of Parliament (MP).
Kabwila was pressured by the University of Malawi (Unima) and governing People’s Party (PP) to resign from her teaching positions following her involvement in active partisan politics.
found that Kabwila had not resigned from her position as a public officer as required by Section 51 (2) (e) of the Constitution.
Kabwila said in an interview on Tuesday her application for sabbatical leave was denied, instead Unima has granted her indefinite leave of absence.
“I was also not sure what that meant and I had to seek clarification before presenting my nomination papers. But it means that I am out of the system, that I will not be able to use university premises or earn a salary during this period,” Kabwila said.
She said she was satisfied that her eligibility was no longer in question, something MLS agreed with.
In a response to a questionnaire, MLS president Mandala Mambulasa said leave of absence in the case of Kabwila meant that there would no longer be conflict of interest if she held two public offices.
He said Kabwila had fully complied with Section 51 (2) of the Constitution because if elected, she would not be drawing two salaries from the public service.
“The rationale behind the law was never that people should resign from the public office for its own sake. It was to ensure that the candidate does not find himself or herself in a position of conflict of interest because he or she is holding two public offices or appointments,” Mambulasa said.
He added: “Consequently, although [Kabwila] may not have resigned as such, it is our considered view that Section 51(2)(e) of the Constitution has been fully complied with and satisfied by their leave of absence as the case may be.”
He said resignation from public office as required by the Constitution was in place to prevent people from using public resources for political campaign so that they should not have unfair advantage over others.