Lawyers for Vice-President Saulos Chilima have demanded the State to immediately restore all his benefits and privileges following the Constitutional Court ruling.
On Monday, the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) reinstated Chilima as Vice-President after nullifying the results of the presidential elections held on May 21 2019—citing evidence of widespread irregularities.
Chilima, who contested for the presidency on a UTM ticket, and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera petitioned the court to dispute re-election of President Peter Mutharika in the May 21 presidential polls.
In a letter, addressed to the Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa, Chilima’s lawyers have demanded the resumption of the benefits within a stated period or risk court action.
One of Chilima’s lawyers, Khumbo Soko, who also represented him in his successful petition to quash last year’s presidential vote, on Friday confirmed writing the letter in an interview on Friday.
“The letter was sent today, February 7. We are demanding that the benefits which are attached to the office of Vice-President of the State should be immediately restored to our client. A court order cannot be ignored,” Soko said .
The Chief Secretary and the Attorney General could not be reached for comments on Friday.
But Mwapasa on Friday said he was yet to receive the letter; hence, could not comment on the matter.
“We should see the letter. We need to be careful as these are legal issues. Our response must be guarded,” said Mwapasa.
Minister of Information Mark Botomani, who doubles as government spokesperson, asked for more time to consult on whether government was complying with the orders of the court.
According to the Constitution, the President and the 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 Vice-President is entitled to an official residence, security, aides, salaries and allowances, all of which Chilima is reportedly yet to receive.
Additionally, Chilima is also reportedly yet to hold any discussion with government on his official roles.
Last year, following Chilima’s resignation from DPP while he remained State Vice-President, the State withdrew some of his benefits and transferred most of his security detail to other duty stations.
When Chilima obtained a court order restraining the transfer of the police officers, Malawi Police Service (MPS) interdicted the officers who obeyed the court order.
Lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta, who represented Chilima then, argued: “The Act 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 whether he is
attending a wedding or going to church or anywhere elase, he is supposed to
have those entitlements.”
One of the implications of the landmark Constitutional Court ruling, is that Everton Chimulirenji, who has served as Vice-President since May last year, is required to relinquish the position and all its trappings.n