Malawi is a funny country with funny laws and funny policies. It is funny, isn’t it, that the people who wrote the Malawi Constitution, sorry the framers of the Malawi Republican Constitution to be more legalese and legally respectful to the people of the bar, made laws that today protect Malawi’s presidents from being taken to court during his or her tenure of office but still thought nobody would be above the Constitution. The president of Malawi was, during the one-party terrorist State and still is today, above the law. And framers of our laws, including those who stood by and endorsed this legal mediocrity, stand guilty in the Bottom Up court.
Whether he or she is found stealing from the State, raping or killing hapless people, the president of Malawi cannot be sued because the framers of the Constitution wanted him or her to be immune from prosecution. Some lawyers, most of whom were not even party to the Constitution framing exercise, have the audacity to justify this lapse by arguing that the protection was meant to ensure the president concentrated on governing rather spending time in the courts of law. Thanks to the law and lawyers, since 1994 our presidents have found ample time to lick the State Cashgate jar, knowing they cannot and will never be punished. By whom, anyway?
Other lawyers have made us believe that a president who steals, rapes, or kills today can be questioned and if found guilty be punished after his or her term of office. Well, see who is boasting around today, building hotels today, eating well today with Cashgate money in the bank and body guards in tow.
Yet other lawyers believe that the Constitution provides for the impeachment of a president by Parliament. Parliament? Which Parliament? The Malawi Parliament cannot impeach anyone. Not even an errant goat. If Parliament failed to impeach the late Moya when he had no numbers in Parliament, can our Parliament impeach any president when he or she has numberless butter-smeared MPs in his pocket? Funny. Isn’t it?
Is it not funny that we have laws that define youths differently depending on the occasion? Currently, in Malawi one is a youth until one attains the age of 18 years for purposes of voting, but one is a baby until one is 35 years old to be president of Malawi. Is it not funny that until 2015 a person was old enough to get married even at the age 15 years as long as one’s parents consented to the marriage? The 2013 youth policy of Malawi, crafted by very clever people, defines a youth as someone between 10 and 35 years, yet in some government policy documents, a youth is someone between 10 and 24 years. The Malawi Youth Well Being Policy says a youth is anyone aged 15 to 29 years. Of late, we have heard arguments, haven’t we, that at 45 years of age, our current State Vice-President is a youth. Just who is a youth in Malawi? The 44-year-old grandmother we met last week at Ludzi Trading Centre in Mchinji must be jumping at hearing this great youth news.
Is it not funny that as we prepare for the 2019 Tripartite Elections, all those who turn 18 years after November 9 2018 when the registration process closes will not be allowed to vote in the May 21, 2019 elections? We are told that somewhere in the electoral laws there is a provision that says only those who turn by the late day of registration can vote in elections that are 180 days away. It does not matter if two million would-be first time voters will be disenfranchised because of this funny electoral law. Does it?
Is it not funny that the procurement laws see nothing wrong in our country allowing one foreign company to win all tenders to manage all our lake ports, all our ships and all our routes; construct all our major roads in Malawi; repairs all our State houses; construct all our toilets and above all else bank all our hard-earned hard currency abroad but leave us with ‘fatherless’ children to raise? n