Soulos Chilima is a ceremonial vice President after being stripped of his delegated responsibilities by his boss President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera after being named in both the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom and Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) as one of those involved in corruption dealings with businessman Zuneth Sattar.
Recently, the Vice President who is topping the list in those two reports has been making public appearances wearing brave face but he is visibly a haunted man.
With the corruption tag dangling around his neck, the second citizen is facing mounting calls to step aside to pave way for investigations. While President Chakwera may have powers to freeze his deputy’s delegated responsibilities, the law does not allow the State President to dismiss him completely but it is far-fetched to think that the Vice President will voluntarily step down.
But even in the event that he does not resign, the Vice president may be a candidate for impeachment if Parliament decides to take that route as one way of relieving the burden that the ACB may face investigating and probably prosecuting under the shadows of his office as the second citizen.
Commenting on the possibility of an impeachment, Professor of law at Cape town University Danwood Chirwa said Parliament is at liberty to initiate impeachment procedures if there are sufficient grounds to do so without waiting for conclusion of the legal process.
He said: “It is true that all those named in the report must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but that doesn’t stop Parliament from taking action.”
Meanwhile the Malawi Law Society (MLS) says the Vice President is not immune from criminal prosecutions. According to the statement signed by Charles Mpaka and Chrispin Ngunde MLS President and Honorable Secretary respectively, the Vice President is liable to criminal prosecution if the ACB finds enough reasons to do so.
Reads the statement: ‘’Without prejudice to the legal presumption of his innocence, the Vice President remains liable to criminal prosecution if the ACB or any law enforcement agency has reason to believe in his potential guilt.”
Last week President Chakwera fired the Inspector General of Police Jimmy Kainja and suspended State House Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga after also being implicated in the two reports by the NCA and the ACB together with the Vice President.
The President indicated that although the ACB report has not provided comprehensive information on his Chief of Staff he decided to suspend him to allow a free investigation process by the ACB.