The Presidential Seal that protects Chakwera from prosecution
* Chilima proposes amendment of the Constitution so that everyone can be prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing
* It is completely misplaced that Presidents of this country have a veil of constitutional protection from criminal prosecution through immunity while in office
By Duncan Mlanjira
Vice-President Saulos Chilima — who is on the corruption radar involving top suspect Zunneth Satar — said “one of the concrete goals of the Tonse Alliance, which has yet to be attended to, was to remove presidential immunity from criminal prosecution” and he proposes amendment of the Constitution “so that everyone in Malawi can be prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing”.
In his address today, July 1 in Lilongwe, Chilima revealed that the remove presidential immunity from criminal prosecution “was pronounced under the campaign agenda of the Alliance”.
This was under the topic of the ‘the fight against corruption’, saying his UTM Party — as one of the partners under the Tonse Alliance — remains committed to the fight against corruption.
“We are aware of the negative economic impact that this vice has on whole societies and many countries, including Malawi,” he said. “This is why during the campaign period, we, in UTM, strongly advocated for the amendment of the section 91(2) of the Constitution of Malawi, which provides undue protection to the occupant of the office of the President of this country.
“The provision provides for the immunity of the President from criminal prosecution. While we salute the fact that the Vice-President of this country can, and must be investigated or prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing, it is completely misplaced that Presidents of this country have a veil of constitutional protection from criminal prosecution through immunity while in office.”
Chilima’s name and that of top officials in President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration, were mentioned in the investigations involving Sattar, which is being undertaken by British Intelligence Agency in liaison with the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau ( ACB).
Following the revelation, Chakwera has since stripped Chilima of any delegated duties, saying this was done to pave way for the investigations — a move which observers hinted of some political divide between the President and his deputy.
Chilima said “the fight against corruption must be attended by all the integrity that is necessary for its legitimacy. We believe that where there is suspicion for wrong-doing, law enforcement agencies must be left to do their job in accordance with the law.
“And the law must thereafter take its course without fear or favour of anyone. That remains our commitment to the people of Malawi and there are no two ways about it.”
He went on to appeal to UTM members and “all well-meaning Malawians to support and also let the ACB carry out its mandate without undue interference”, in reference to what some UTM youths and sympathisers did when they gathered outside Chilima’s Area 43 residence in Lilongwe last week — following reports that ACB officers were scheduled to interrogate the Vice-President Saulos Chilima on the Sattar corruption investigations.
This demonstration in support of Chilima attracted total condemnation and derision by the public since the Vice-President himself had a day earlier issued a public statement, saying the ACB had not confronted him with the said allegations of criminal conduct so that he has the opportunity of making representations on the same.
In his address, Chilima said: “No one should interfere with the work of the Bureau regardless of which side of the political divide you belong to. Corruption is evil. It is also legitimately expected that the Bureau should not entertain any efforts to be abused or misused by any quarters for whatever reason.
“The Bureau must not put its investigative or prosecutorial methods in question. For my part, as communicated through my Press Secretary last week, I will welcome the opportunity to respond to allegations of my alleged corrupt dealings, for which decisions have been taken without sight of the evidence, but I will do so strictly within due legal processes.
“To be clear, I will not fuel medial trials, let alone even appear to impair the work of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.”
Regarding the economy, Chilima said “it is common knowledge now that the fundamentals in the economy are a cause of concern and we can list a whole litany of problems and their origin but what is worthy highlighting is that we all need to rally together when the whistle in blown so that everyone gets busy by being productive in this country.
“The three pillars under MW2063 are a solid foundation for both recovery and growth. As an agrarian economy, we will not wish our agricultural sector away. The Government has embarked on an ambitious program to establish mega farms.
“This is an effort we must all applaud and rally support for. It is a venture that promises remarkable returns for our economy. Beyond mega farms, we should be thinking of cascading such investment to cooperatives which should be linked to Mega Farms as their primary markets.
“This is where agro-business processing must commence as we aim to drive industrialisation at the local level in our country’s strata and increase our export base. The potential to create jobs for our people working in, or as members of, cooperatives is also apparent in this initiative.”
Chilima maintained that the country has all the resources it needs to turn around the fortunes of this country “but we need to sober up from the excitement and anxieties of political fights; show up; and get working. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.