Undule questions motive behind calls for removal of presidential immunity
CSO leaders and concerned citizens are pushing for the removal of presidential immunity, led by Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa.
Malawi: Undule Mwakasungula, governance and human rights expert, has questioned the call for nationwide protests on presidential immunity, fearing it could be a ploy to destabilize a democratically elected government, writes Watipaso Mzungu.
CSO leaders and concerned citizens are pushing for the removal of presidential immunity, led by Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, arguing that it is critical to success in Malawi's fight against corruption.
Namiwa stated that by removing Chakwera's immunity, he would have made a bold statement that he was not involved in any of the corruption scandals that rocked the country during his two years in office.
Namiwa claimed that President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera's "changing of tunes and dragging his feet on removing presidential immunity strengthens fears that first citizens will become involved in corrupt activities; thus, remaining immune is safer."
He vowed that civil society organisations would not relent in putting pressure on the President to either revoke presidential immunity or admit openly that he is compromised in the fight against corruption and thus unfit to continue serving in the highest office.
Mwakasungula, on the other hand, questioned CSO leaders' and Concerned Citizens' eagerness to remove the constitutional provision.
The revered human rights activist was concerned that the issue might be politicised.
"The removal of presidential immunity should not be politicised because it could lead to a constitutional crisis and chaos,” Mwakasungula stated in an interview earlier this week.
"We need to seriously reflect and be sober with the issue without being manipulated by/for political interests in the name of fighting corruption."
He stated that in many African countries, a sitting president is immune from prosecution in domestic courts, not only for violating domestic laws, but also for violating international law.
Mwakasungula went on to say that the constitution should protect the sitting president from any wrongdoing while in office for the sake of national sanity so that the President is not distracted from government operations and derailing national development.
"The immunity is intended to preserve the dignity of the President's office."
Any attempt to prosecute a sitting president may lead to the disintegration of the state's unity, resulting in anarchy and chaos.
It is therefore critical that Malawians are engaged and free to debate the pros and cons of allowing the President to answer his/her wrongs while in office.
"This cannot be decided solely by a few members of civil society or concerned citizens," he said.
He warned CSOs and Concerned Citizens against advocating for presidential immunity in order to bring about undemocratic regime change.
"We must understand that any undemocratic regime change is unacceptable." Malawi has so many problems to address, and we need unity of purpose, so it's critical to understand our priorities as a country without politics or hidden agendas," Mwakasungula emphasised.