President Lazarus Chakwera has detailed his decision to reduce presidential powers in an effort to empower the citizens targeting appointment of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) boss and chancellorship of public universities.
Chakwera made the pronouncement during question time in Parliament on Thursday.
Trimming presidential powers was among the campaign promises Chakwera made during political rallies that helped him defeat former President Peter Mutharika in the June 23 presidential election re-run.
Responding to a question from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MP for Chikwawa North Owen Chomanika on trimming presidential powers, Chakwera said he was committed to the cause.
On ACB’s independence, Chakwera said he will move to have a situation where the director should not be appointed by the Executive but identified through Parliament.
“Parliament will interview several potential people and submit three names to the president for approval,” he said.
The President said this will enable ACB to operate freely and independently to fulfill its constitutional mandate.
He also said, as part of making public universities independent from the Executive, the role of chancellor of public university will be left to the academia, as one way of empowering them.
Chakwera also added that he will not control cash flow of Parliament and ensure that is ring-fenced and Parliament is subject to its own audit.
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Social commentator Humphrey Mvula supports the move, saying excess presidential powers have long made the presidents in Malawi not accountable to anyone.
“They have done what they so wished. They employed cronies, relatives, home-mates, tribesmen and all manner of individuals because there is no vetting process. They have decided to vary rules and regulations at whim,” Mvula said .
Edge Kanyongolo a, legal expert at the University of Malawi, said trimming presidential powers is the only thing Malawi can do to consolidate its democracy.
Some presidential powers governance activists have demanded to have them reduced is the President’s authority to appoint heads of Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service, among others.
Despite pledging to reduce his presidential powers in a campaign promise of 2014, his predecessor Peter Mutharika changed tune when he assumed office after his campaign victory and never implemented the reforms.