Deputy minister confirms illegal DPP succession scheme

At approximately 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 7, state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation officially announced the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, that the country will observe ten days of mourning and that the Malawi Constitution will be adhered to in regards to succession.  The announcement came nearly two days after initial reports of the late president’s death began to appear in international media and in Malawian diaspora.

But at 8:30 a.m. a Zodiak Radio interview with Deputy Minister of Transportation and Public Infrastructure Gotani Hara put the government’s intentions for constitutional order in question.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Public Infrastructure Gotani Hara. Photo via Parliament of Malawi website.

With unprecedented candour from a government official, Hara confirmed rumours that Mutharika’s Democratic People’s Party (DPP) cabinet members have been holding emergency meetings on the issue of succession, adding that according to the constitution holding such meetings in the absence of Vice President Joyce Banda is illegal.

Hara said that since initial reports of Mutharika’s medical condition on Thursday, three meetings have been attended by all cabinet ministers and deputy ministers and were chaired by Minister of Energy Goodall Gondwe.  He said that at the meetings, Mutharika’s brother, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mutharika, expressed the view that because Banda is not with the DPP she is illegible to take over as acting president.

Hara said cabinet’s strategy at the meetings was to prepare documents and argue in court that Banda should not lawfully succeed Mutharika as acting president, using Section 85 of the constitution to argue instead that cabinet should choose the next president.

Vacancy of office of President and Vice-President

31 of 1994

85.

If at any time both the office of President and First Vice- President become vacant then the Cabinet shall elect from among its members an Acting President and Acting First Vice-President who shall hold office for not more than sixty days or, where four years of a Presidential term have expired, for the rest of that Presidential term.

When asked if she was concerned for her political future as a minister after coming forward, Hara replied that being a minister is a privilege and that even if she loses her position she will still be a member of parliament and able to serve her people.

“My conscience is clear,” said Hara.  “The constitution says in the absence of the president the vice president takes over.”

Section 83 of the Malawi Constitution:

Tenure of office31 of 1994

1998

83. –
  1. The President shall hold office for five years from the date that his or her oath of office is administered, but shall continue in office 38 of until his or her successor has been sworn in
  2. The First Vice-President and the Second Vice-President shall hold office from the date of the administration of the oath of office to them until the end of the President’s term of office unless their office should come to an end sooner in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
  3. The President, the First Vice-President and the Second Vice-President may serve in their respective capacities a maximum of two consecutive terms, but when a person is elected or appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of President or Vice- President, the period between that election or appointment and the next election of a President shall not be regarded as a term.
  4. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of President, the First Vice-President shall assume that office for the remainder of the term and shall appoint another person to serve as First Vice-President for the remainder of the term.
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About karissagall

Karissa Gall is a Canadian journalist.

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