Helen Buluma dressed down SPC Zamba

By Charles Dokera

Dear Madam Speaker,


I am one of patriotic Malawians who, today, were eyes tight on their screens be it television or smart phones. We had spared time Following proceedings PAC inquired into the dramatic developments we have been hearing at NOCMA. Allow me to opine that with the public attention NOCMA issue has, so far, gained, it might be dull of me to think that you have not followed what transpired during today’s meeting between PAC and miss Buluma. The development left everyone shocked upon hearing revelations made against mama Colleen Zamba. While others rushed into convicting Mama Zamba, most of us were waiting to hear Mama’s side so that when making judgement, we be fair for it is against the rule of natural justice to judge someone before he or she is heard in her or his defense.

Madam Speaker, as if it is a dream, our waiting has ended into a deep shock to hear that the much awaited side of Mama Zamba has defied the committee’s summon without any legitimate excuse. She and her fellow board members have defied parliament. The executive has defied the parliament which you head hon. Speaker. The constitutional spirit of checks and balances has been tested. Your office has been tested Hon. Speaker.

It is against this backdrop that my mind has taken me through some legal authority which you may rely upon to defend and protect the Constitution of the republic of Malawi and to uphold the rule of law and to uphold the respect parliament deserves.

Hon. Speaker, allow me to present to you that it is an offence, to begin with, under section 19(b) of the National Assembly (powers and privileges) Act for “any person who refuses to be examined before, or to answer any lawful and relevant question put by the Assembly or a committee, unless such refusal be excused as hereinbefore provided. The offender shall be liable to a fine of £200 and to imprisonment for two years.”

Hon. Speaker the SPC has aborted an inquiry which would benefit Malawians through the parliament to understand what is happening in public functionaries which handle public resources for the benefit of Malawians. The action of SPC puts forward a very unwanted precedent that letting her free would be a great lacuna of justice.

Hon. Speaker, your office is one of highly authoritative offices deliberately so to protect democratic leadership of our society. Your office has a legal basis to issue a warrant of arrest which would be executed by police under section 11(2) of National Assembly powers and privileges Act to arrest Mama Colleen Zamba together with her fellow board members and be brought before the committee to be held accountable.

Section 11 of National Assembly (powers and privileges) Act empowers you to issue warrant which would compel attendance of those on run before the committee. The provision reads;

“If a person to whom a summons is directed does not attend before the Assembly or committee at the time and place mentioned therein, the Speaker may, direct the clerk to issue a warrant to apprehend him or her and bring her at a time and place to be stated in the warrant, before the Assembly or committee “

The action of the SPC has grave negative repurcations on the Democratic governance as well as rule of law of our society. If your office cannot be vigilant enough maybe due to political or other reasons, this country will be ungovernable. I, therefore, gather the audacity honorable speaker to advise you on what the law requires your office to do.

Hon. Speaker, I feel so strong to advise you because, as you might be aware, the attorney general who under ordinary circumstances was supposed to tender this kind of advice to you, is now conflicted as he already issued an advice to your office in breach of the law which in its implication, has aided the SPC to evade an inquiry.

Madam speaker, the attorney general has lost legal mandate to advise you on this matter and if anything, the attorney general has aided and abetted the obstruction of justice and he is also amenable to prosecution of which the office of the DPP has powers to effect an arrest of the AG.

SECTION 109(b) of the Penal code provides that; ” any person who inorder to obstruct the due course of justice, dissuades, hinders or prevents any person lawfully bound to appear and give evidence, or endeavours to do so, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for five years””

In the matter at hand, it may be a great miscarriage of justice to imagine that the attorney general didn’t know the existence of this law the time he was dissuading your office or indeed that of SPC not to appear before PAC claiming that the action is or was illegal despite the absence of any legal authority. Even if that maybe the case, this being a criminal matter, section 7 of the penal code states that ignorance of the law is at no chance defense to any criminal charge. The attorney general risks being arrested on that basis and has lost legitimacy to tender you any legal advice relating to the matter at hand.

Madam Speaker,. the Democratic leadership of our society is established under the constitution of Malawi and any legal or political authority must be exercised in accordance to the spirit of rule of law. The gross violation of rule of law we have witnessed pauses a danger to the governance of our society and that can only be contained if democratic institutions like parliament can he vigilant to defend and protect the rule of law.

In the circumstances argued above, your office Madam speaker, stands out in defending our constitution by exercising your discretion to issue a warrant of arrest against SPC and accord the parliament respect it deserves.

Thank you for your attention
Unsolicited advisor
Charles Dokera
Email: charlesdokerathole@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author not necessarily of The Maravi Post or Editor

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