The country’s law experts have faulted government for limiting Vice-President Saulosi Chilima’s benefits to when he is doing government business only.
A letter signed by Chief Secretary to Government Lloyd Muhara, addressed to all principal secretaries and heads of department, says the Vice-President will be accorded his benefits “ whenever he is conducting government businesses”.
But Michael Goba Chipeta, who is the immediate former secretary of the Malawi Law Society (MLS), said the Presidents Salaries and Benefits Act says vice-presidents are entitled to the benefits by virtue of being vice-presidents and not necessarily when they are doing government businesses.
Chipeta has quoted Section 4 (1b) of the Presidents Salaries and Benefits Act.
“The Act is very clear. It says the Vice-President shall be entitled to the salary, benefits and facilities prescribed in part 2 of the schedule. So the entitlements are by virtue of being the Vice- President and not only when he is doing government work. The Act doesn’t say that. Whether he is attending a wedding or going to church or anywhere else, he is supposed to have those entitlements,” he said as quoted in the Daily Times .
MLS president Alfred Majamanda has concurred with Chipeta saying the Act does not specify the scenarios where the Vic- President is to be accorded his benefits.
But government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi has backed the decision saying Chilima will only be using government resources he is entitled to when he is doing government business assigned to him by President Peter Mutharika.
“The letter [to the principal secretaries] is self-explanatory. If, for example, the Vice- President is attending a meeting or anything he has been delegated by the President, then that is government business because he is the Vice-President. Vice-presidents act on delegated power from presidents. If he is doing government businesses, then he will be accorded everything he is entitled to because he is the Vice-President of the State,” he said.
Government has announced the move barely a week after Chilima lambasted the Democratically Progressive Party-led government accusing it of corruption and described it as rotten to the core last Saturday when he launched his United Transformation Movement at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe.