Democratization Process in Malawi [Mutharika]

Democratization Process in Malawi [Mutharika]

From Wed Jun 8 13:40:23 1994 From: Local Genius Subject: Reflections: by Prof. Peter Mutharika (fwd) Date: Wed, 8 Jun 1994 09:40:12 -0400 (EDT)

This might be of some interest to the african studies center. It was posted to the malawi list, for more info, send e-mail to or

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Professor A. Peter Mutharika of the Law Department of Washington University and General Counsel for the Malawi Action Committee has produced a short (49 page) booklet entitled: "MALAWI: REFLECTIONS ON THE DEMOCRATIZATION PROCESS, THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RULE OF LAW"

In the conclusion, he writes:

"Malawi has entered what one hopes is an irreversible era of multiparty politics. This does not mean, however, that Malawi will become an instant democracy. What I have referred to in this essay as the "transitional period" is the period during the coming year when a permanent constitution will be adopted and several years beyond when the new government will then have the responsibility of translating the precepts laid down in the constitution into democratic political culture. While parts of the constitution need to be rethought and redrafted, the constitution as a whole is comprehensive and has attempted to make a clean break with the past. An examination of the chapters that deal with the Armed Forces, the Police, the Prison Service and the State Revenue, for example, reveals an unequivocal determination to repudiate the past. Provisions such as the creation of an Inspectorate of Prisons to monitor conditions in the prisons and that no government or party shall use the police to promote a political party or undermine an opposing political party are clear examples of this determination. The constitution does therefore lay down a foundation for good governance in Malawi. But it is only a foundation. The challenge now is one of building a democratic structure that will enable our country to face a whole range of economic and social issues. Constitutions and high sounding words in bills of rights do not by themselves bring about democracy. Indeed the world is full of beautifully written constitutions which have been subverted as soon as they entered into force. It is therefore important for Malawians to ensure that there is a commitment to the values that the constitution espouses. At a minimum, it will require a public that requires accountability and transparency from the government. It will also require a government that understands that it must operate within the boundaries of the rule of law and a judiciary that is not afraid to decide cases even against the government if the law so requires. The clergy, the Malawi Law Society and the various human rights groups can also play a crucial role in Malawi's democratization process. As is well known, the one party state was finally brought down by a coalition of the clergy, exiled Malawi activists, and internal and external pressure groups. Multilateral and bilateral donors also played an important role. One of the most dramatic developments of our time is an emerging consensus of opinion that human rights issues are no longer matters of domestic concern only. They are the concern of the international community as a whole. It is hoped that people's rights will become the centrepiece of our national policy as we embark on the democratization process."

Persons interested in obtaining a copy of this essay may contact Prof Mutharika at: Dr. A. Peter Mutharika School of Law Campus Box 1120 St. Louis, MO 63130 U.S.A.

Tel: 314-935-6479 Fax: 314-935-6493 ========================END TEXT==============================

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