They keep saying, ‘My President, my Emperor, and my All’: Exploring the antidote to the perpetual threat on constitutionalism in Malawi
Chilemba, Enoch MacDonnell
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Constitutionalism is the liberal democratic value that aims at having a constitutional government whose powers are capable of being effectively limited. A country’s constitution plays the major role in ensuring constitutionalism since it creates and allocates powers to the institutions of government and also seeks to control/restrain the exercise of such powers. It is noteworthy that state institutions comprise the Executive; the Judiciary and the Legislature. This paper analyses the role of the constitution in checking the powers of the president (who heads the Executive) in order to achieve constitutionalism in Africa’s democratic states. It singles out the presidency as it yields more powers compared to the other institutions and hence has crucial impact on constitutionalism. The paper focuses on the case study of Malawi to highlight how the unchecked presidential powers continue to stifle constitutionalism. It discusses how the 1966 and 1995 constitution-making processes in Malawi did not result in a constitution capable of adequately constraining the powers of the president. The unchecked presidential powers act as a recipe for the perpetual threat on constitutionalism in Malawi. In view of this, the paper seeks to analyse the constitutional measures that Malawi could explore to ensure a presidency whose powers are capable of being limited in order to promote constitutionalism.