Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has warned that ‘regime change’ calls are not in the best interest of Malawians and may only divide the country.
The minister described the calls as “unconstitutional” yesterday, the last day of the two-day Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Sixth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference in Blantyre under the theme The State of Governance and Public Trust: Reclaiming Our Destiny at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre.
His sentiments followed proposals by some delegates to the meeting, notably self-proclaimed leader of People’s Land Organisation Vincent Wandale and human rights activist Billy Mayaya, who suggested on Wednesday that President Peter Mutharika should step down.
But yesterday, Tembenu, making a government response to issues raised during the two-day conference, said it was important that the county’s Constitution should be respected at all times.
He said while it cannot be denied that corruption and other governance issues are haunting the economy, there should be other ways of addressing the challenges other than advocating for unconstitutional processes.
Said Tembenu: “Indeed, if a doctor finds that a patient has a tumor he will not prescribe that the remedy should be to chop off the head.
“What do you mean when you say change the captain, change the crew? Any proposition that you can change regimes or anything other than constitutional means is something I don’t agree with, and must be looked at carefully.
“We should try to resist that because we are a nation that chose constitutionalism and it is the Constitution that is above all of us and everything.”
He pleaded with the delegates to give dialogue a chance, saying the problems facing the country have existed for some time. He observed that previous leaders also failed to address the same problems.
On corruption, Tembenu said government was in the process of reviewing the Corrupt Practices Act as one way of dealing with the vice.
He also dismissed assertions that his office interferes with oversight institutions and other State agencies, saying officials from the said offices—including the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the National Audit Office (NAO)—regularly submit reports to Parliament and are summoned before parliamentary committees to clarify issues.
Similar ‘regime change’ calls were made during PAC’s Fifth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference last year by outspoken People’s Party (PP) third vice-president and Rumphi East member of Parliament (MP) Kamlepo Kalua alongside former PP spokesperson Ken Msonda now a member of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Kalua gave the President 90 days to resign, but the call also received divided opinion from the delegates.
During the First All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference in March 2012, delegates gave former president Bingu wa Mutharika 60 days to improve economic and political governance or step down. However, Bingu died of cardiac arrest on April 5 before the deadline was over.