Mutharika orders a review of ‘bad’ laws

Thursday December 8 2011

By Rex Chikoko Nation Correspondent

Lilongwe, Thursday

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has ordered a review of all controversial laws.

President Mutharika ordered the Malawi Law Commission, a government department that drafts the country’s laws, to review some of the laws passed by his government and which are deemed to be against the wishes of Malawians.

The President’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which enjoys a majority in parliament, has been accused of passing bills against the wishes of Malawians leading to the deadly July 20 protests.

The country’s Justice minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume said that some of the laws set for review include Section 46 of the penal code that empowers the Information minister to ban newspapers.

Mr Chiume said the laws would be sent to the law commission in the first step towards a comprehensive review.

Other laws to be reviewed are the provisions regarding indecent practices and unnatural acts in sections 137A, 153-156 of the penal code — popularly known as the anti-gay law.

Civil Procedures — a law against suits by or against the government and public officers, Local Courts Act 2011 and section 35 of the Police Act, 2010 — which empowers police to search or make an arrest without providing reasons — are also set for review.

“The Government of Malawi wishes to announce to the Malawi nation that in view of the sentiments from the general public regarding certain laws and provisions of certain laws passed by the National Assembly, it is submitting the relevant laws and provisions of laws to the Law Commission for review,” said Mr Chiume.

Make recommendations

He said the Law Commission is expected to undertake a comprehensive review of the laws in accordance with its mandate under the Constitution and the Law Commission Act and consequently make appropriate recommendations for consideration by the government.

Political commentators say the government has decided to request for the review of the laws in order to attract the much needed aid which donors withheld because of bad governance hinging on the oppressive laws.

Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda said Mutharika was reacting to the July 20 petition demands.