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Former Cabinet minister Uladi Mussa’s lawyer wants to move the court to nullify his client’s conviction following his pardon by President Lazarus Chakwera as part Easter celebrations.
If the application is accepted by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, the legal position would be that Mussa, who was serving a five-year jail term for abuse of office, was never convicted, giving him a lifeline to bounce back into politics if he wishes to run for an elected office.
As it is, the law bars convicted persons from contesting for an elected office unless after the expiry of seven years from the day of one’s release from jail.
Reads Section 51(2)(c) of the Constitution: “No person shall be qualified to be nominated or elected as a member of Parliament if that person has, within the last seven years, been convicted by a competent court of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude.”
Pardoned during Easter: Mussa
In an interview yesterday, Mussa’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe said his clients appeal case was set to be heard on May 16 2023 before a whole panel of the Supreme Court.
But before this happened, Mussa was among 200 prisoners the President pardoned, according to Minister of Homeland Security Ken Zikhale Ng’oma.
Gondwe said the High Court already zeroed in on such an issue after a presidential pardon where, he said, a High Court judge held that a conviction may not survive a pardon.
“We shall seek the indulgence of the apex court to clarify on this issue. Depending on the decision of the Supreme Court bench, we shall further consult our client on whether to proceed with the appeal or not,” he said.
The lawyer said since his client was pardoned by the President, they shall still appear before the Supreme Court and ask it to provide guidance on the implication of a pardon on a conviction.
Gondwe said: “If the Supreme Court bench agrees with the observation of Justice [of Appeal Lovemore] Chikopa in his High Court ruling though orbiter in Chihana vs Malawi Electoral Commission [in which it was suggested a conviction may not survive a pardon], we shall be forced to drop the appeal.
“If the Supreme Court shall decide otherwise on the implication of the presidential pardon on the conviction, we may proceed with the appeal.”
The President pardoned Mussa, who was convicted and later in October 2020 sentenced to a five-year-long jail term for abuse of office and neglecting public duties.
Mussa, who served as minister of Homeland Security during the Peter Mutharika administration, was sentenced alongside former regional Immigration officer David Kwanjana and businessperson Peter Katasya.
In February this year, Rumphi East legislator Kamlepo Kalua asked Ng’oma to request the President to pardon Mussa, arguing he was a national leader and the government should consider releasing him.
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