The Tonse Alliance government has not yet given immediate-past president Peter Mutharika his retirement benefits although his predecessor Joyce Banda is enjoying almost all privileges entitled to her office.
Meanwhile, a University of Malawi political scientist has bemoaned what he calls politicisation of the former presidents’ benefits.
In a response to a questionnaire, Banda, who ruled Malawi from 2012 to 2014, disclosed that she has been given a Prado TX whose market value is about K100 million and has been allocated a “befitting residence”.
The former president said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government did not give her such benefits which are stipulated in the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act.
“Some benefits were given during the DPP-led government i.e. pension, staff and medical. I was supposed to get two cars in 2014, but I did not. The Tonse government has provided one car and they are yet to provide the second one which I will get when funds are available.
“As for a house, the one I was occupying in Area 43 was old and dilapidated. The ceiling collapsed in November 2020. The Chief Secretary Zangazanga [Chikhosi] came to inspect and directed that the Ministry of Lands should move us to another house,” she said.
According to Section 5 of the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act, a former president is entitled to a house or house allowance if they reside in a personal house, free electricity and water, two cars; a saloon and a four-wheel drive.
They are also supposed to have a 30-member staff, including six security officers, four gardeners, personal secretary and two drivers.
Mutharika left the presidency in June last year after losing to Lazarus Chakwera in a court-sanctioned fresh presidential election following the nullification of the May 21 2019 poll.
In an interview on Thursday, DPP spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira said government has not yet honoured Mutharika’s stipulated retirement entitlements.
“I have spoken to the former president. He has received nothing. No house and no cars…What has been provided is just very minimal security,” he said.
But Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said Mutharika has not received his full benefits due to economic challenges facing the country.
He said: “If there are certain things we have not provided, it is not because we choose to do so but instead there could be other factors more chiefly erratic cash flows in public coffers.”
However, Kazako said government was committed to providing the benefits.
He said: “Benefits for the former presidents are a provision of the law and, as a government that hinges on and believes in the law, we have an obligation to satisfy what the law says.”
Commenting on the matter, governance analyst Mustapha Hussein said the implementation of law that offers former presidents benefits is influenced by politics.
“In the case of Joyce Banda, she was not getting her full benefits because of the rivalry that was there with Mutharika. The then incumbent played all tricks in the book to delay adhering to the rule of law,” he said.
Hussein also said he does not expect Mutharika to complain because he is “getting the same dose of medicine”.
Banda’s People’s Party is part of the Tonse Alliance government that ousted DPP from power through the June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election.