Since Mutharika made the declaration on March 20, some members of the legal fraternity have been saying the president breached some legal provisions in making the declaration.
However, a statement from public relations officer in the Ministry Of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Pilirani Masanjala, said the declaration “was made in accordance with section 32 of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act (Cap. 33:05 of the Laws of Malaŵi)”
Section 32 of the Act reads: “If at any time it appears to the President that any disaster is of such a nature and extent that extraordinary measures are necessary to assist and protect the persons affected or likely to be affected by the disaster in any area within Malaŵi or that circumstances are likely to arise making such measures necessary, the President may, in such manner as he considers fit, declare that, with effect from a date specified by him in the declaration, a state of disaster exists within an area defined by him in the declaration:
Provided that where such declaration has been made in any manner other than by notice in the Gazette, the President shall, as soon as possible after making it, cause it to be published in the Gazette.”
“In making the Declaration, the President complied with section 32 of the Act and as required by that provision, caused the said declaration to be published in the Gazette as Government Notice No. 4 in the Malaŵi Gazette Supplement of 3rd April, 2020. Further, the Ministry wishes to state that the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act does not preclude the President, as head of State and Government, from announcing any of the extraordinary measures as are necessary to assist and protect persons affected or likely to be affected by the disaster so declared.,” said Masanjala.