This is the version of this Act as it was from 31 December 2017 to 2 November 2020. Read the version currently in force.
Republic of Malawi (Constitution) Act
Act 20 of 1994
- Assented to on 16 May 1994
- Commenced on 18 May 1994
- [This is the version of this document as it was at 31 December 2017 to 2 November 2020.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated in the Forth Revised Edition of the Laws of Malawi (L.R.O. 1/2015), by the Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice under the authority of the Revision of the Laws Act.]
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Republic of Malawi (Constitution) Act.
2. Repeal of the 1966 ConstitutionThe Republic of Malawi (Constitution) Act, 1966, and the Constitution enacted thereunder and amended from time to time are hereby repealed.
3. The Constitution of the Republic of MalawiThe Constitution set out hereunder shall be the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and which shall come into force in accordance with the provisions thereof.
The Republic of Malawi
1. Malawi a sovereign stateThe Republic of Malawi is a sovereign State with rights and obligations under the Law of Nations.
2. The national flag, etc.Malawi shall have a National Flag, a National Coat of Arms, a National Anthem and a Public Seal.
3. The national territoryThe national territory of the Republic of Malawi shall consist of all the territory, including airspace, waters and islands which comprised the territory of Malawi before the commencement of this Constitution, and shall include any territory lawfully acquired thereafter by adjustment of boundaries or otherwise.
4. Protection of the people of Malawi under this ConstitutionThis Constitution shall bind all executive, legislative and judicial organs of the State at all levels of Government and all the peoples of Malawi are entitled to the equal protection of this Constitution, and laws made under it.
5. Supremacy of this ConstitutionAny act of Government or any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be invalid.
6. Authority to govern, universal and equal suffrageSave as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the authority to govern derives from the people of Malawi as expressed through universal and equal suffrage in elections held in accordance with this Constitution in a manner prescribed by an Act of Parliament.[11 of 2010]
7. The separate status, function and duty of the executiveThe executive shall be responsible for the initiation of policies and legislation and for the implementation of all laws which embody the express wishes of the people of Malawi and which promote the principles of this Constitution.
8. The separate status, function and duty of the legislatureThe legislature shall be responsible for the enactment of laws and shall ensure that its deliberations reflect the interests of all the people of Malawi and that the values expressed or implied in this Constitution are furthered by the laws enacted.[11 of 2010]
9. The separate status, function and duty of the judiciaryThe judiciary shall have the responsibility of interpreting, protecting and enforcing this Constitution and all laws and in accordance with this Constitution in an independent and impartial manner with regard only to legally relevant facts and the prescriptions of law.
Application and interpretation
10. Application of this Constitution
12. Constitutional principles
13. Principles of national policyThe State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
14. Application of the principles of national policyThe principles of national policy contained in this Chapter shall be directory in nature but courts shall be entitled to have regard to them in interpreting and applying any of the provisions of this Constitution or of any law or in determining the validity of decisions of the executive and in the interpretation of the provisions of this Constitution.
15. Protection of human rights and freedoms
16. The right to lifeEvery person has the right to life and no person shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life:Provided that the execution of the death sentence imposed by a competent court on a person in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Malawi of which he or she has been convicted shall not be regarded as arbitrary deprivation of his or her right to life.
17. GenocideActs of genocide are prohibited and shall be prevented and punished.
18. LibertyEvery person has the right to personal liberty.
19. Human dignity and personal freedoms
21. PrivacyEvery person shall have the right to personal privacy, which shall include the right not to be subject to—
22. Family and marriage
23. Rights of children
24. Rights of women
26. Culture and languageEvery person shall have the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of his or her choice.
27. Slavery, servitude and forced labour
29. Economic activityEvery person shall have the right freely to engage in economic activity, to work and to pursue a livelihood anywhere in Malawi.
30. Right to development
32. Freedom of association
33. Freedom of conscienceEvery person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief and thought, and to academic freedom.
34. Freedom of opinionEvery person shall have the right to freedom of opinion, including the right to hold, receive and impart opinions without interference.[11 of 2010]
35. Freedom of expressionEvery person shall have the right to freedom of expression.
36. Freedom of the pressThe press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information.
37. Access to informationEvery person shall have the right of access to all information held by the State or any of its organs at any level of Government in so far as such information is required for the exercise of his or her rights.[11 of 2010]
38. Freedom of assemblyEvery person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.
39. Freedom of movement and residence
40. Political rights
41. Access to justice and legal remedies
42. Arrest, detention and fair trial
43. Administrative justiceEvery person shall have the right to—
44. Limitations on rights
45. Derogation and public emergency
51. Qualifications of members of Parliament
52. Oath of allegianceEvery member of Parliament, before taking his or her seat, and every officer of Parliament, before assuming duties of his or her office, shall take and subscribe before the Chief Justice in the National Assembly—
53. The Speaker and Deputy Speakers
54. Casting vote
55. The ClerkThere shall be a Clerk to the National Assembly who shall be a public officer and shall assist the Speaker of the National Assembly and perform such other functions and duties as the Speaker may direct.[4 of 2001]
56. The right to regulate procedure
57. Money billsExcept upon the recommendation of the Minister responsible for Finance, signified in writing, the National Assembly shall not—
58. Subsidiary legislation
59. Sessions, meetings and sittings
60. Privileges and immunities
61. Member’s interests
62. Composition of the National Assembly
63. Vacancies in the National Assembly
64. ***[Repealed by Act No. 6 of 1995]
65. Crossing the floor
66. Functions and powers of the National Assembly
67. Dissolution of the National Assembly
68. ***[Repeal by Act No. 4 of 2001]
69. ***[Repeal by Act No. 4 of 2001]
70. ***[Repeal by Act No. 4 of 2001]
71. ***[Repeal by Act No. 4 of 2001]
72. ***[Repeal by Act No. 4 of 2001]
73. Presidential assent
74. The coming into force of lawsNo law made by Parliament shall come into force until it has been published in the Gazette, but Parliament may prescribe that a law shall not come into force until some later date after its publication in the Gazette.[13 of 2001]
75. The Electoral Commission
76. Powers and functions
77. The franchise
78. The PresidentThere shall be a President of the Republic who shall be Head of State and Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force of Malawi.[4 of 2004]
79. The Vice-PresidentThere shall be a First Vice-President and, subject to section 80 (5), a Second Vice-President both of whom shall assist the President and who shall exercise the powers and functions conferred on the First Vice-President or the Second Vice-President, as the case may be, by this Constitution or by any Act of Parliament and by the President.[31 of 1994]
80. Election of the President and the First Vice-President
81. Oath of office
82. RenumerationThe President, First Vice-President and Second Vice-President shall receive such salary, allowance or pension as may, from time to time, be determined by Parliament in consultation with the President and shall have such adequate number of residences and personal staff, at State expense, as an Act of Parliament may prescribe.[31 of 1994; 13 of 2001]
83. Tenure of office
84. Death or resignation of a Vice-PresidentIf the First Vice-President dies or resigns from office, or where in accordance with section 87 the office is vacated through the incapacity of the First Vice-President for more than twelve months, the vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired period of that term by a person appointed by the President.[31 of 1994; 13 of 2001]
85. Vacancy of office of President and Vice-PresidentIf at any time both the office of President and First Vice-President become vacant then the Cabinet shall elect from among its members an Acting President and Acting First Vice-President who shall hold office for not more than sixty days or, where four years of a Presidential term have expired, for the rest of that Presidential term.[31 of 1994]
86. Removal from office
88. Responsibility of the President
88A. Prevention of conflicts of interests of the President and Cabinet
89. Powers and duties of the President
90. Confirmation of decisions etc., of the President
93. Government departments
94. Appointment of Ministers and Deputy Ministers
95. Oath of office and removal of Minister or Deputy Minister
96. Duties and functions of the Cabinet
97. Ministerial accountabilityAll Ministers shall be responsible to the President for the administration of their own departments.
98. The Attorney General
99. The Director of Public Prosecution
100. Delegation of powers to prosecute
101. Appointment of the Director of Public Prosecutions
102. Removal of the Director of Public Prosecutions
103. The independence and jurisdiction of the courts and the judiciary
104. The Supreme Court of Appeal
105. Composition of the Supreme Court of Appeal
106. Acting Justices of Appeal
107. Relief from duties
108. The High Court
109. Composition of the High CourtThe Judges of the High Court shall be such number of judges, not being less than three, as may be prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
110. Subordinate courts
111. Appointment of the judiciary
112. Qualification of judicial officers
115. The judicial oathA person holding judicial office shall not enter upon the duties of his or her office unless that officer has taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance for the due execution of his or her office in such manner and form as may be prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
116. The Judicial Service CommissionThere shall be a Judicial Service Commission for the regulation of judicial officers and which shall have such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred on it by this Constitution or, subject to this Constitution, by any Act of Parliament.
117. CompositionThe Judicial Service Commission shall consist of—
118. Powers of the Judicial Service CommissionThe Judicial Service Commission shall have the authority to—
119. Tenure of office of Judges
120. The Office of the OmbudsmanThere shall be a public office known as the office of the Ombudsman which shall have such powers, functions and responsibilities as are conferred upon that office by this Constitution and any other law.
121. Independence of the OmbudsmanIn the exercise of his or her powers, functions and duties the Ombudsman shall be completely independent of the interference or direction of any other person or authority, but shall otherwise be answerable to Parliament.[13 of 2001]
122. Appointment of the Ombudsman
123. Functions and powers
124. Powers of investigationThe Ombudsman shall have full powers to—
125. Privileges and immunities of the OmbudsmanA person holding the office of Ombudsman shall—
126. RemediesWhere the investigations of the Ombudsman reveal sufficient evidence to satisfy him or her that an injustice has been done, the Ombudsman shall—
127. Reports of the OmbudsmanThe Ombudsman shall lay, each year, before the National Assembly a report which shall include a record of all complaints and applications to the office of Ombudsman, a record of the exercise of powers in relation to applications, of the remedies afforded to applicants in respect of grievances and shall also include a record of the general recommendations of the Ombudsman in respect of grievances.
128. Removal from office
Human Rights Commission
129. Establishment of the Human Rights CommissionThere shall be a Human Rights Commission the primary functions of which shall be the protection and investigation of violations of the rights accorded by this Constitution or any other law.
130. PowersThe Human Rights Commission shall, with respect to the applications of an individual or class of persons, or on its own motion, have such powers of investigation and recommendation as are reasonably necessary for the effective promotion of the rights conferred by or under this Constitution, or any other written law but shall not exercise a judicial or legislative function and shall not be given powers so to do.[13 of 2001]
132. Establishment of the Law CommissionThere shall be a Law Commission which shall have the power to review and make recommendations relating to the repeal and amendment of laws and which shall have such powers and functions as are conferred on it by this Constitution and any Act of Parliament.[13 of 2001]
133. CompositionThe Law Commission shall consist of—
134. Removal of the Law Commissioner
135. Powers and functions of the Law CommissionerThe Law Commission shall have the powers—
136. Independence of the Law CommissionThe Law Commission shall exercise its functions and powers independent of the direction or interference of any other person or authority.
National Compensation Tribunal
137. The National Compensation TribunalThere shall be a National Compensation Tribunal which shall entertain claims with respect to alleged criminal and civil liability of the Government of Malawi which was in power before the appointed day and which shall have such powers and functions as are conferred on it by this Constitution and an Act of Parliament.
138. Exclusive original jurisdiction
141. Protection of third party rightsWhere a third party disputes a claim and has an interest in money or property that is the subject of a claim before the National Compensation Tribunal—
142. Jurisdiction of ordinary courts
143. Power to waive statutory limitationsFor the purposes of pursuing claims before the National Compensation Tribunal and criminal and civil proceedings against a private person within the meaning of section 142 (2), any statutory time limitation may be waived by the Tribunal or by a court if it seems to the Tribunal or the court equitable to do so.
144. National Compensation Fund
145. Winding-up of the National Compensation Fund
146. Local government authorities
147. Composition of local government authorities
148. Jurisdiction of local government authorities
149. National Local Government Finance Committee, its establishment, powers and functions
150. Duty to provide adequate resources for local government functionsThe Government shall be under a duty to ensure that there is adequate provision of resources necessary for the proper exercise of local government functions and to this effect shall allow a local government authority to keep such proportion of the revenue collected by that authority as shall be prescribed by the National Local Government Finance Committee; and any surplus of the revenue shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund, unless otherwise provided by an Act of Parliament.[13 of 2001]
151. Composition of the National Local Government Finance Committee
152. The Malawi Police ServiceThere shall be a Malawi Police Service which shall be constituted by an Act of Parliament that shall specify the various divisions and functions of the Malawi Police Service.[13 of 2001]
153. Powers and functions of the Police
154. The Inspector General of Police
155. The Police Service Commission
156. Power to delegate
158. Political independence of the Malawi Police Service
The Defence Force
159. The Defence Force of MalawiThere shall be the Defence Force of Malawi which shall be the only military force constituted in Malawi and which shall be regulated in accordance with this Constitution and any other written law.[13 of 2001; 4 of 2004]
160. Constitutional position of the Defence Force of Malawi
161. Responsibility for the Defence Force of Malawi
162. The Defence and Security Committee of the National Assembly
163. The Malawi Prisons ServiceThere shall be the Malawi Prisons Service which shall consist of all penal institutions, labour camps, special and secure schools and other institutions that are used to house, detain and rehabilitate persons sentenced to imprisonment in whatever form such imprisonment may take, but shall not include holding cells in police stations.[13 of 2001]
164. The Chief Commissioner for Prisons
165. Power to delegate
166. Appointment of the Chief Commissioner for Prisons
167. The Prisons Service Commission
168. Composition of Prisons Service Commission
169. The Inspectorate of Prisons
170. Composition of the Inspectorate of Prisons
171. RevenueNo tax, rate, duty, levy or imposition shall be raised, levied or imposed by or for the purposes of the Government or any local government authority otherwise than by or under the authority of the law.
172. The Consolidated FundAll revenues or other moneys raised or received for the purposes of the Government shall, subject to this Constitution and any Act of Parliament, be paid into and form one Fund, to be known as the Consolidated Fund.
173. Withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund
174. Expenditure charged on the Consolidateed Fund
175. Annual estimates
176. Appropriation BillsWhen the estimates of expenditure to be met from the Consolidated Fund, but not charged thereon, have been approved by the National Assembly, a Bill, to be known as an Appropriation Bill, shall be introduced in the Assembly providing for the issue from the Consolidated Fund of the sums necessary to meet that expenditure and the appropriation of those sums, under separate votes for the several heads of expenditure approved, to the purposes specified in the Bill.
177. Supplementary appropriations
178. Authorization of expenditure in advance of appropriationThe National Assembly may make provision under which, if it appears to the Minister responsible for Finance that the Appropriation Act in respect of any financial year will not come into operation by the beginning of that financial year, he or she may authorize the withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of moneys for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government until the expiration of four months from the beginning of that financial year or the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act, whichever is earlier:Provided that provision for any moneys so withdrawn shall be included, under the appropriate heads, in the Appropriation Bill.
179. Contingency Fund
180. Raising of loans by the Government
181. Special funds and trust moneys
182. The Development Fund
183. The Protected Expenditure Fund
184. Auditor General
The Reserve Bank of Malawi
185. The Reserve Bank of Malawi
186. The Civil Service CommissionThere shall be a Civil Service Commission which shall have the powers and functions conferred upon it by this Constitution or any Act of Parliament and which shall consist of a chairperson, deputy chairperson and not less than six nor more than ten other members.[13 of 2001]
187. Powers and functions of the Civil Service Commission
189. Offices to which this Chapter does not apply
190. The appointment of Diplomatic staffAmbassadors, High Commissioners and such other principal diplomatic staff as shall be determined by an Act of Parliament shall be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Public Appointments Committee which may require persons so appointed to answer questions as to their competence and financial probity.[13 of 2001]
191. Appointment of members of the Civil Service Commission
193. Independence of the Civil Service
194. Chairing of boards, commissions, etc.Where a law confers power to appoint a board, commission, council, committee or similar body and to appoint, elect or designate the chairperson thereof, no person shall be appointed, elected or designated as chairperson of more than one such board, commission, council, committee or similar body.
Amendment of this Constitution
195. Power to amendParliament may amend this Constitution in accordance with this Chapter
196. Restrictions on amendments
197. Amendments by ParliamentSubject to section 196, Parliament may amend those Chapters and sections of this Constitution not listed in the Schedule only if the Bill proposing the amendment is supported by at least two-thirds of the total number of members of the National Assembly entitled to vote.
198. Republic, etc., to be constituted in accordance with this ConstitutionThe Republic of Malawi the organs of State and the offices referred to in this Constitution shall be defined and constituted in accordance with this Constitution.
199. Status of this ConstitutionThis Constitution shall have the status as supreme law and there shall be no legal or political authority save as is provided by or under this Constitution.
200. Saving of laws in forceExcept in so far as they are inconsistent with this Constitution, all Acts of Parliament, common law and customary law in force on the appointed day shall continue to have force of law, as if they had been made in accordance with and in pursuance of this Constitution:Provided that any laws currently in force may be amended or repealed by an Act of Parliament or be declared unconstitutional by a competent court.
201. Elections to the National AssemblyFor the purposes of this Constitution the first National Assembly after the date of commencement of this Constitution shall be composed of those persons successfully elected to the National Assembly in accordance with the Act of Parliament then in force for the election of members of the National Assembly.
202. Election to the office of PresidentFor the purposes of this Constitution the first President after the date of commencement of this Constitution shall be the person successfully elected in accordance with the Act of Parliament then in force for the election of a person to the office of President.
203. Saving of judicial powerThe High Court shall have the same jurisdiction, powers and procedures as before the commencement of this Constitution, subject to amendment or repeal of such powers by an Act of Parliament in accordance with this Constitution.
204. Pending legal actions
205. Judgments and sentences pending executionAll judgments or sentences pending execution shall be executed as if such judgments or sentences were ordered in accordance with this Constitution:Provided that where the Constitution provides new grounds for appeal, any such appeal shall act as a stay of execution and the appeal shall be to the High Court.
206. Existing appointments
207. Vesting of lands, etc., in the RepublicSubject to the provisions of this Constitution, all lands and territories of Malawi are vested in the Republic.
208. Savings of rights of Government in propertyThe Government shall have title to all rights in property which are vested in the Government of Malawi on the date of the commencement of this Constitution save as otherwise provided by section 209 (2) and provided that the disposal of rights in property where title is vested in the Government shall be made in accordance with an Act of Parliament.[13 of 2001]
209. Continuation of rights of persons in property
210. ***[Repealed by Act No. 4 of 2001]
211. International law
212. Coming into force of this Constitution
213. Disclosure of assets by holders of certain offices
214. Short title of this ConstitutionThis Constitution of the Republic of Malawi may be cited as the Constitution.[1 of 1997]
215. DefinitionIn this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires—"appointed day" means 18th May, 1994, being the date on which this Constitution shall come into operation;"age prescribed for retirement" is such age as may be prescribed in an Act of Parliament for the retirement of a person holding public office.[1 of 1997]
History of this document
03 November 2020
18 May 1994
16 May 1994