President Lazarus Chakwera has clarified that the appointments of Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) commissioner general and his deputies are “provisional” and that the hiring of deputy Inspector General (IG) of Police has been withdrawn.
On Wednesday Chief Secretary to Government Zangazanga Chikhosi announced the appointment of John Bizwick as MRA Commissioner General and his deputies; Henry Ngutwa responsible for revenue and Agness Katsonga responsible for administration.
Chakwera also appointed Demuster Chigwenembe as deputy Police IG responsible for operations.
But Malawi Law Society (MLS) described as illegal the appointments, saying according to the law, the MRA commissioner general and a deputy are supposed to be appointed by a board while the police deputy IG is supposed to be appointed by the Malawi Police Service Commission.
Speaking during a swearing-in ceremony of his new Cabinet in Lilongwe at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) said it has been pointed out correctly that the law does not give him power to appoint a Commissioner General and Deputy Commissioner General for the public tax collector.
Chakwera said what the statement on the appointments did not mention is that because such appointments are the domain of the Board of MRA, his appointments are only made to function in an acting capacity “until the Board is reconstituted and in place to make permanent appointments.”
Said the President: “I have made these provisional appointments to stop the free-for-all pilferage of taxes and the destruction of evidence that have been taking place there in the last few weeks, crimes which need to be stopped as a matter of urgency.”
The appointment of the deputy Inspector General of police has been withdrawn, the President said.
” As for the appointment of the Deputy Inspector General, it has duly been withheld pending a regularization process, and I commend all of you who noted the anomaly,” he said.
Chigwenembe’s appointment had contravened Section 14 (a) (1) of Malawi Police Act which states that the Police Service Commission, as conferred on it by the Constitution, appoints persons to hold or act in office in the police service other than that of the IG.
The Constitution, under Section 154 (2), only gives the President the mandate to appoint the Inspector General of Police who is to be confirmed by Parliament. The supreme law of the land is silent on appointment of deputy IG.
On the other hand, Section 17 (1&2) of the MRA Act empowers the board to appoint the Commissioner General with approval from the minister and the same law empowers the board to appoint deputy commissioners.