UDF adamant on Muluzi comeback
By DICKSON KASHOTI - 23 April 2007 - 12:41:17
UDF spokesperson Sam Mpasu said in an interview Sunday that what commissioners of the Special Law Commission said about presidents serving only two terms was just an opinion because the commission does not make laws and neither does it interpret them.
“The legal position is that whatever is decided now, it cannot apply to Dr. Muluzi. You do not apply the law retrospectively,” said Mpasu.
But a Blantyre lawyer who did not want to be named said the law could not apply to Muluzi retrospectively if it was changed because he was not yet a candidate.
Muluzi, out of office since 2004 at he end of his second term, has threatened to challenge President Bingu wa Mutharika, who is going to run on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) standard bearer John Tembo in the 2009 presidential polls.
Asked if the Law Commission anticipates any legal challenge over its interpretation of the presidential terms, especially by the UDF, Law Commissioner Anthony Kamanga said:
“I do not think they would have basis to challenge the views of the Special Law Commission…. Ours are just recommendations. Anyone would be entitled to an opinion. The Special Law Commission is merely expressing an opinion. I hope we won’t reach a stage where the Special Law Commission is taken to court.”
Kamanga said nobody should think that any specific recommendation was targeting the former president.
“Personally, I have very high regard for the former president. We would not use a Special Law Commission to target anybody. The Law Commission has been fairly independent. Our reviews of the Special Law Commission in this report are the views of the commissioners, there has been no one who has come to say do this.
“To ensure transparency, the moment we announced that this report is available, we released copies to certain authorities. We also put it on the website,” he said.
Kamanga said this was the first time the Law Commission has done broad countrywide consultations, adding the commission had spent close to K27 million to reach out to people throughout the country.
He said the money used was from government, United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice), among other donors.
Asked how delegates reacted when the commission said the Constitution bars retired presidents from bouncing back, Kamanga said there were mixed reactions.
“Unfortunately, they came out as if it were a partisan issue. The bottom line for the Special Law Commission is this and comes out very clear in the report:
“The Special Law Commission does not subscribe to the view that on the current wording of Section 83 (3) having regard to the mischief, having regard to the intention, a former president or vice-president who has already served two terms can bounce back.
“The Commission is very clear on that, they don’t subscribe to that view but the commission does say that the current provision is a bit misleading. Take the case of somebody who served five years, then comes back.
“The technical issue is that if you serve one term, can you subsequently serve two consecutive terms? Obviously no, that is not the intention because otherwise you would be defeating the purpose, the mischief,” he said.