Attorney General Cautions on Committee Setting Election Day Date
Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, has warned the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament against single handedly setting a date for the fresh presidential election arguing that such a mandate only falls with parliament sitting in plenary.
Kaphale has expressed this in a letter dated May 22, 2020 addressed to chairperson of the legal affairs committee Kezzie Msukwa copied to chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission-MEC.
“I am of the view that your committee has misdirected itself and committed a grave error of law by believing that it can resolve to set a date for the fresh presidential election and dictate the same to the Malawi Electoral Commission.
“To begin with, your committee…is not Parliament at all. It is simply a committee of Parliament,” writes the AG to the chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of parliament noting that the direction of the Supreme Court was for Parliament to carry out the task of setting up a date.
“The date for an election of the president that is other than that for the election of members of the National Assembly must be provided for in the Constitution and only Parliament, and not a committee thereof, can effect the legislative intervention to enact for the new date,” he added.
“Please note that in case this advise is not taken, I would give my authority to an external lawyer of your choice, on my account, to seek judicial interpretation of the relevant laws,” Kaphale writes.
Meanwhile, chairperson of the committee Kezzie Msukwa, says he has written the Malawi Electoral Commission for it to gazette 23 June as date of holding the fresh election.
Private practice lawyer Chrispine Sibande told Zodiak in an interview “The position taken by the Attorney General is a reminder that there are still a number of steps to be taken by different institutions for Malawi to hold credible, free and fair fresh presidential elections.
“Parliament needs to meet urgently to review existing laws in line with Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judgments. Malawi Electoral Commission has to be re-constituted urgently to prepare for these elections. Unfortunately time is running out and the 150 days are coming to a close.”
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale is now demanding information from the Legal Affairs Committee of parliament on legal advice the committee sought from private lawyers with regard to the setting up of the date for the fresh election.
Kaphale says he is also “curious to know if all of them (the lawyers) hold current practicing licenses to enable them render the services they are doing to the committee, for a fee. My suspicion is that some of them may not be holding current practicing licenses”.
Meanwhile, President Peter Mutharika is this week expected to notify the Judicial Service Commission to nominate judges for consideration of appointment of new MEC Chairperson.
Presidential Spokesperson, Mgeme Kalirani says the president is treating the matter with the urgency it deserves.