Former Malawi leader Bakili Muluzi and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have separately told the government to honour the constitution and allow Vice-President Joyce Banda to take over following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Mr Muluzi told a news conference on Friday that there was need for government to honour the constitution.
Malawi CSOs alleged that government was planning to call an emergency meeting of parliament to elect Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda as acting president, or allow the military to take over.
“We call for smooth secession and constitutional order. We are surprised that the office of the Vice-President is not being consulted. We are concerned with the secrets surrounding the whole issue,” read part of the communiqué to the press.
President Mutharika’s Cabinet was locked in a meeting since morning and had not made any official announcement at the time of going to press.
Ms Banda, currently fired from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and who has not been attending Cabinet meetings for close to two years, was expected to take over the leadership in an acting capacity, according to the constitution.
The Vice-President spokesperson, Ms Ruth Govati, said there had not been any communication to the VP office regarding the transfer of power since President Mutharika was taken ill.
“There has not been any communication, which I know about. We are hearing about this [the president’s illness] like anyone else,” she said.
Ms Banda, speaking on one of the local radios, had wished the President quick recovery and called upon Malawians to pray for him.
Malawi Law Society Secretary Bright Theu said it was necessary for the wheels of the law to start running to ensure that the Vice-President took over on an acting capacity.
Section 87 of Malawi constitution reads in part: “(1.) Whenever the President is incapacitated so as to be unable to discharge the powers and duties of that office, the First Vice-President shall act as President, until such time, in the President’s term of office, as the President is able to resume his or her functions.”
Section Two of the Chapter saiys; (2) the President shall not be deemed to be incapacitated for the purposes of this section until and unless –(a.) there is a written declaration, certified by a board of independent medical practitioners, that the President is unable to discharge the duties of the office of President; (b.) the declaration is signed by the First Vice-President and a majority of the Cabinet, holding office at that time; and (c.) the declaration is submitted by the First Vice-President to the Speaker of the National Assembly. And section (3.) Upon submission to the Speaker of a declaration under subsection (2), the First Vice-President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office of President as Acting President.
Culled Africa Review