By Edwin Nyirongo
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Professor Peter Mutharika on Saturday turned savior for the Mzuzu University (Mzuni) when he donated a set of printers and photocopier to the institution.
The donation came against the background of strike by students of the college who last week boycotted classes and damaged property over allegations that management was dragging its feet in repairing malfunctioning printers and photocopies at the campus.
Mutharika made the donation during a public lecture he held at the university.
“I have given you these machines not from the Ministry of Justice but from my personal account. Share them between the students and staff and use them properly,” he said amid protests from students after he mentioned the staff.
Mutharika, who arrived over thirty minutes later than the scheduled time of 6pm, received a standing ovation from other dignitaries who included Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe, Abbie Shaba, Ken Kandodo and some deputy ministers.
Some students wore T-shirts emblazoned with Mutharika’s face. The T-shirts also had words: ‘Our democratic Constitution: Some reflections 15 years later, 19th June 2010,” inscribed at the back.
But the lecture was not without controversies, especially after the students were asked to send questions in advance for scrutiny. Some students feared dean of students Chrispine Mphande would remove some critical questions.
And when Mphande started calling names of students to ask questions, there was a protest from those who demanded that everyone should ask questions freely. This forced Mphande to give in and allow students to ask questions freely.
Then came the time when deputy Vice Chancellor Orton Msiska took the floor. Students were not happy with him and started calling: “Nthawi [Time] less than a minute after he began speaking.
Questions ranged from why there are so many constitutional amendments and if DPP would not abuse its majority in Parliament.
The most famous question came from Charles Namalele who wondered why the Justice and Constitional Affairs Minister did not include the role of the in his lecture.
Said Namalele:“The police came to our campus and manhandled us left, right and centre. Is that their role?”
Mutharika said the police are a service and not a force and that if anything bad happened, it might have been due to poor judgment on the part of the law enforcers.
In his lecture, Mutharika said he felt embarrassed that he was involved in the drafting of the Constitution, saying it is long and contradictory. He described it as one of the most amended constitutions on earth.
He also said while he supports the return of the Recall Provision, it is not easy to prove that constituents have lost confidence in their MP.
He also backed Section 65 of the Constitution [on crossing the floor] which he said safeguards political morality although it infringes of freedom of association.
Mutharika also said while it is good to have a presidential limit, the principle should also apply to MPs-The Nation.