Friday, July 19, 2024

Malawi Law Society Suggests Chakwera’s Help for Chilima’s 2025 Eligibility Question

Chakwera and Chilima

In a manner that suggests mercenary endeavour, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) gets booked for behind-the-court advocacy help by the beleaguered UTM ahead of 2025 election season.

Amidst the looming specter of the 2025 elections, the central question arises: is Malawi’s Vice President, Saulos Chilima, eligible to vie for office? This contentious debate stems from a Constitutional Court ruling in 2009, when former President Bakili Muluzi sought to pursue a third term after a five-year hiatus from power. While some legal scholars argue that despite completing his two terms, the UTM Party leader remains eligible, others contend that he is bound by the precedent set by prior court decisions.

To resolve this uncertainty, the onus falls squarely on President Chakwera to seek judicial clarification through a Presidential referral to the Court. The Malawi Law Society advocates for this course of action, urging Chakwera to proactively address the matter. However, critics argue that such pressure on the President amounts to an overreach, as the decision to make a referral rests solely within his prerogative.

Said Shire Times Senior Political Commentator John Masina.

“It is usurping the Presidential power to direct the President to make presidential referral. The Constitution also does not say stakeholders must petition the President to make those referrals. It is the discretion of the President to do so.”

From a political standpoint, Masina said the ambiguity surrounding Chilima’s candidacy plays into the hands of the MCP, strategically keeping potential challengers in a state of uncertainty. He said forcing Chakwera’s hand in making the referral could inadvertently bolster Chilima’s position.

“Politically, it is good for Chakwera for his potential competitors candidacy to be in limbo than to removal all doubts that he will face him in 2025. The uncertainty is good for the MCP. It is a psychological game working to their best interests. To force Chakwera therefore to make the referral is akin to indirectly campaigning for Chilima. The courts will do its part when the time comes and that is part of the game,” Said Masina.

Furthermore, Masina said that the proposal to confer original jurisdiction on election matters to the Supreme Court of Appeal is a matter reserved for Parliament, not within the purview of President Chakwera.



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