Group for constitutional reforms

 

Pressure group Transformation Alliance (TA) has called for speedy constitutional reforms to reduce presidential powers and give governance institutions more powers.

In a communiqué from the group’s first ever national conference issued yesterday, TA said theoretically, the Constitution ought to have been built on two principles of separation of powers and the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms.

Kunkuyu: We have a rotten political system

The group observed that the Constitution does not effectively provide safeguards for separation of powers between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.

The communiqué argues that the president is able to breach the separation of powers principles because the Executive exclusively controls funding and appointments in the other arms of government.

In this regard, TA said it is advocating for an exercise to reform presidential powers granted in the Constitution in consultation with all stakeholders.

“The TA agenda will demand a constitutional review that will aim at addressing the areas that currently impedes good governance in order to fundamentally rebalance our society and economic system in favour of a productive economy that automatically favours younger people-and away from the old vested interests-and that section of the political elite, rotten and polluted by greed and corruption,” reads in part the communiqué.

Further, the communiqué states that apart from revisiting presidential powers, the constitutional review must include a call for referendum whenever there are issues of national importance, selection of ministers by the president must be vetted by Parliament, prohibit use of public resources by any political party, be it the ruling or opposition, for campaign purposes and that Cabinet ministers should not be members of Parliament (MPs), among others.

In an interview after issuing the communiqué, TA chairperson Moses Kunkuyu said resolutions on having a constitutional reform was based on presentations that were made at their conference.

He said: “What came out was that we have a rotten political system that is bringing in leaders that are guided by that system and nothing can change much.”

The call by TA to have MPs barred from serving as Cabinet ministers echoes what the exit report of the disbanded Public Sector Reforms Commission (PSRC) which was headed by Vice- President Saulosi Chilima had suggested that there should be no Cabinet appointments on the side of the MPs.

But in a telephone interview yesterday, a constitutional law expert Edge Kanyongolo, who is also an associate professor at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, said the greater need is on strengthening appointment powers by Parliament.

He said: “I think the issue is to expand powers of confirmation by Parliament, for example, the appointment of Director of the National Intelligence Bureau [NIB] even the principal secretaries must be confirmed by parliament-but here I am just giving examples.”

Kanyongolo, however, said the issue of funding ought to be associated with Parliament as it ultimately has the power in such a capacity, and not necessarily the President.

In the aftermath of the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, political parties also called for an urgent constitutional review, arguing that the Constitution does not augur well with democratic principles and political fair play. n

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