Malawi’s President Bingu Wa Mutharika is calling for the speaker of the national assembly to resign immediately for misleading him into assenting to a bill that had not been debated in Parliament. Mutharika said Loius Chimango submitted a World Bank funded power interconnection bill for his approval, before it had not been debated and passed, as the law requires. However, some political analysts believe the president’s move could further worsen the brewing political tension between President Mutharika’s government and opposition parties in the country.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee has reportedly instituted an investigation into the testy relationship between President Mutharika and Speaker Chimango.
University of Malawi Chancellor College political science Professor Blessing Chisinga tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Lilongwe, he thinks that the president’s action is a face saving move.
“I think there is more than meets the eye. Yes, I think the speaker has erred in forwarding to the president a bill that has not been debated in parliament. But I think one needs to go a step further, especially, in the context of the president’s tendencies to bulldoze his way, even if it means violating the constitution,” Chisinga noted.
He said Speaker Chimango might have acted under duress.
“My own reading of the situation is that the speaker might not have acted on his own. He might have been under pressure to push through the bill for assent to the president. But now that this has happened, I think this has been exposed, what the office of the president is trying to do is to save their face,” he explained.
Chisinga said President Mutharika has had a longstanding insipid relationship with Speaker Chimango.
“I think there are a number of things that might have forced the president to go for his resignation. And I think one of those contentious things is I think Section 65. You see Section 65 is going to affect proportions of the government side, so the way the speaker has been acting of late has really showed that he is determined to move on. And I think the president has taken this as an opportunity to get rid of the speaker in order to have a new beginning or in a way to delay the implementation of Section 65,” Chisinga suggested.
He said a Human Rights Commission’s inquiry could confirm what the president's accusers have said of him violating the constitution. The president has, however dismissed those allegations as unfounded.
“I think the findings would clearly show that the president has violated the constitution a number of times. And I think this is reflective of the culture of Malawians in so far as the respect for constitutionalism is concerned. As a country, we have been taken up by the economic achievement that the current government has done at the expense of the rule of law. The president has violated the constitution a number of times with a sense of impunity,” he said.
Chisinga said President Mutharika’s options are very limited since he runs a minority government.
“Of course, it has been inevitable for the president to do that (violate the constitution) because he is running a minority government, and for him to push forward his legislative agenda, I think it is becoming inevitable for him to violate the constitution. But I think it does not warrant him to go that route,” Chisinga pointed out.