In case you’re not up to speed on today’s major story, it revolves around the significant lack of basic legal understanding displayed by Norman Chisale, an operative of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who ran the country from behind the scenes masquerading as a security aide to former President Peter Mutharika before Malawians kicked them out of power.
Norman Chisale, in his limited wisdom, took it upon himself to write a letter to the Minister of Justice, Titus Mvalo, expressing his concerns regarding his ongoing corruption case, which has remained unresolved for three years. The issue lies in his apparent lack of comprehension regarding the separation of powers within a government. There are three independent branches: the Judiciary, Executive, and Legislature. It was the Judiciary, not the Minister of Justice, who froze his accounts. The Minister of Justice is part of the Executive branch and has no authority over the workings of the Judiciary.
How could the Minister of Justice possibly assist in this situation? Do Malawi’s courts operate under the direction of the Executive, the President, or the Minister of Justice? It’s worth noting that Chisale’s former boss, Peter Mutharika, is known as a Constitutional law professor. Did he offer this advice to his former aide?
Putting that aside, what led Chisale, who seemed untouchable during Peter Mutharika’s tenure, to find himself in this precarious situation now?
Well, Chisale is accused of abusing the tax identification number (TPIN) for Mutharika in the importation of K5 billion worth of cement from Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2018 and 2020.
In a letter directed to Mvalo and copied to the Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and others, Chisale expresses worry with delays in his case saying this is affecting him.
“It’s almost three years now but nothing seems to happen on the case. I am not happy because this is affecting me. “I am suffering, my accounts remain frozen and my properties are still being managed by government. I feel I’m being politically persecuted,” reads the letter in part.
Chisale continues: “Honorable minister, let me enlighten you on some of the properties which the State forfeited; I acquired those properties from my salary and allowance that I have received from the time I worked with former presidents Bakili Muluzi, late Bingu Wa Mutharika and Peter Mutharika. Some are from my gratuity from MDF.
“But let me bring to your knowledge about some of the houses; I got them from a K400 million loan I took from FDH Bank. Because of the frozen accounts, I haven’t been servicing the loan and now they want to sell the houses which are in the hands of government to recover their money,” further reads the letter.
Chisale says in the letter that he had paid back part of the loan and was remaining with K80 million as balance but now the loan has gone up to K217 million following nonpayment.
“I am going through a lot. I can’t afford basic needs for my family. My kids have been withdrawn from school, I’m failing to pay utility bills and I’m failing to support my family members who rely on me for assistance,” he says in the letter.
Chisale has therefore requested the minister and the other relevant authorities to unfreeze his accounts and release his properties as the case go on considering the delays in the case.
“I and my lawyer have numerous times requested for this through courts but the State keeps objecting,” he said.
But Mvalo has said Chisale should direct his concerns to right authorities.
“I haven’t received such letter from Mr Norman Chisale, but if it is true that he has written this letter to me as Minister of Justice then he will have addressed the wrong office because his matter is not in my hands, it is in court under the Judiciary.
“There is a separation of powers among the three arms of Government of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. As Minister, I am in the Executive headed by the President. There are no courts under the Executive branch. Courts fall under the Judiciary which owns and runs them, and the Judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice, not Minister of Justice,” Mvalo said.
Chisale was arrested by Police in July 2020. He had handed himself over to the police after reports that he was wanted by the police on the TPIN issue.