Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) says it is ready to provide a legislator to submit a notice of motion in the National Assembly to impeach President Peter Mutharika.
MCP’s position comes against a background of a call from Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) for Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya to summon an emergency Parliament meeting to consider impeaching Mutharika over his alleged involvement in the K2.7 billion Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam.
In an interview yesterday, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said the party is ready to support the call, including providing a member of Parliament (MP) who can submit the motion.
He said: “As MCP, we are ready yesterday! You know our president, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, has always spoken strongly against the vice of corruption that is eating away the economic fabric of this great nation.
“We cannot allow the whole President take part in the vice. We cannot sit and watch while the President aids in milking an already thin cow that is Malawi. Social services have broken down, substandard goods and services have been delivered because of corruption. Malawians are suffering as a result of corruption.”
Mkaka urged the Speaker to heed the call from HRDC and urgently convene Parliament as per legal and regulatory provisions.
Following revelations in a leaked Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigation report that showed that food rations supplier Pioneer Investments Limited made an abortive interest claim of K466 million and deposited K145 million into the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) bank account at Standard Bank whose sole signatory is Mutharika, civil society organisations called for the President’s resignation or impeachment .
The Speaker responded to the request by advising HRDC to identify an MP to submit a notice of motion on the matter in accordance with Standing Order 208 of the National Assembly. Mkaka said Mutharika should go through the impeachment process and prove himself innocent.
HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo said the response from MCP was timely and demonstrates commitment to fight corruption.
He said: “We will be engaging them as HRDC. This has given us hope considering the fact that MCP also has got good numbers in Parliament.”
Constitutionally, to call for Parliament, the Speaker consults the President, a provision governance analyst Augustine Magolowondo said makes it very unlikely for Mutharika to accept that Parliament be convened.
He said: “Looking again at the political configuration in Parliament, the motion cannot pass. The other thing is that the Speaker must call for Parliament in consultation with the President, but who would be that President to accept Parliament to convene and deliberate on your future? I don’t see it happening.”
In an earlier interview, presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said Mutharika is not losing sleep over this issue because he did nothing wrong.
He dared HRDC to sponsor impeachment proceedings “if they think they have capacity to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President over this matter.”
Impeachment procedures for the President or Vice-President, as laid down in Section 208(1), state: “A member wishing to move a motion to indict the President or the Vice-President for impeachment shall give a notice of intention to move such a motion, signed by one-third of members of the Assembly to the office of the Speaker seven days before the motion to indict the President or the Vice-President on impeachment is moved in the Assembly.”
Subsection (12) states that the motion on the indictment shall be passed in a secret ballot, by not less than two-thirds of all members of the National Assembly.
Section 209 reads: “(1) The Speaker shall, within 24 hours of the notice following a resolution on indictment cause a copy of the resolution to be transmitted to the Chief Justice who shall cause notice to be issued to the President of Vice President on the resolution of the indictment.
“(2) The Chief Justice shall, within seven days after receipt of the notice transmitted under Sub-Rule (1) constitute a tribunal comprising two Justices of the Supreme Court (excluding himself or herself) and a legal practitioner of good standing and with not less than 15 years experience at the bar to investigate the allegation in the indictment and to report its findings to the Assembly…”