LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, says public servants who intend to participate in politics should resign from their public service positions as the 2019 tripartite elections are approaching.
Chief Secretary’s warning follows a concern raised by human rights activists, Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence , who recently penned the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) on the matter.
The two, through a law firm Bullen and Associates, argued that some civil and public servants have not complied with the requirement and need to be disciplined.
Muhara, in a letter dated June 28 2018, copied to principal secretaries and heads of departments, chief executives of parastatal organisations and district commissioners, says failure to do so is contravening the Constitution and the Malawi Public Service Regulations.
He added that the public servants should resign or retire once they qualify, prior to embarking on their political campaign, including participating in primary elections.
“As you are aware, Section 193 of the Constitution provides for the independence and neutrality of the public service. Furthermore, it is misconduct for a public servant to engage in political activities as provided for in Regulation 1:201(24) of the Malawi Public Service Regulations,” reads the letter.
The letter further gave the aspirant politicians three days to resign failing which they [the activists] would commence a judicial review.
Among the mentioned public servants include Chief Director of Safe Motherhood Chimwemwe Chipungu, who has been voted as National Organising Secretary at the Democratic Progressive Party’s convention.
But Chipungu Tuesday said while the Constitution is pointing at showing interest in being a lawmaker or councillor, he will take action based on what is best for the public service and his political ambition.
“If my activities in politics and what I am supposed to be doing in the public service are compromised, then I should decide whether to go to politics or be in the civil service. If you’re a policy maker in the civil service, you cannot go into politics.
“That’s my interpretation at the moment. I cannot give you my opinion as to my next stage but as a law-abiding citizen, I will take action depending on what is in the best interest of the civil service and my political ambition,” said Chipungu as quoted by Daily Times.
Trapence, therefore expressed satisfaction with how government has responded on the matter.
He, however, said they will be monitoring those that will not comply with the law.
“If we see any civil servant who is not following the advice, then we will take it up even if it means going to court,” said Trapence.