A verbal war between the state and High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda is not over yet as the latter has lambasted Nyirenda who faulted President Peter Mutharika for making a declaration of a national disaster over the coronavirus without citing any law.

Delivering a ruling after an inter partes hearing of the application of Chinese nationals Lin Xiaoxiao, Liu Zhigin, Wang Xia, Tian Hongze and others, against their deportation Justice Kenyata Nyirenda said the laws on the declaration of state of national disaster are archaic and cannot be applied in 2020.

“Honestly, the very thought of declaring a state of disaster without even bothering to tell Malawians the law under which the declaration is made is taking Malawians for granted. The framers of our Constitution knew pretty well that Malawi would, at some point face disasters. They, accordingly, put in place constitutional provisions for handling such disasters,” he said.

Nyirenda said Malawi’s legislative regime governing Malawi’s response to disasters is not only archaic and obsolete but it is also in total shambles.

“Almost all, if not all, applicable laws are completely outdated. Needless to say, the coronavirus epidemic has caught the authorities with their pants down. How the authorities expect to effectively combat the epidemic in 2020 with laws enacted in 1948 (Public Health Act), 1964 (Immigration Act) and 1991 (Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act) boggles my mind,” he said.

But in a statement released today, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional affairs has trashed Nyirenda’s claims, saying Mutharika used Section 32 of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act.

“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,” reads in part the statement signed by Pilirani Masanjala, Ministry of Justice Public Relations officer.

Mutharika declared Malawi a state of disaster last month and banned all public gatherings of more than 100 people.

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