Malawi 1994 Constitution (reviewed 2017)

Table of Contents


12. Constitutional principles

  1. This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—
    1. all legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests;
    2. all persons responsible for the exercise of powers of State do so on trust and shall only exercise such power to the extent of their lawful authority and in accordance with their responsibilities to the people of Malawi;
    3. the authority to exercise power of State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent Government and informed democratic choice;
    4. the inherent dignity and worth of each human being requires that the State and all persons shall recognize and protect human rights and afford the fullest protection to the rights and views of all individuals, groups and minorities whether or not they are entitled to vote;
    5. as all persons have equal status before the law, the only justifiable limitations to lawful rights are those necessary to ensure peaceful human interaction in an open and democratic society; and
    6. all institutions and persons shall observe and uphold this Constitution and the rule of law and no institution or person shall stand above the law.
  2. Every individual shall have duties towards other individuals, his or her family and society, the State and other legally recognized communities and the international community and these duties shall include the duty to respect his or her fellow beings without discrimination and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance; and in recognition of these duties, individual rights and freedoms shall be exercised with due regard for the rights of others, collective security, morality and the common interest.

13. Principles of national policy

The 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—

  1. To obtain gender equality through—
    1. full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equal opportunities with men;
    2. the implementation of the principles of nondiscrimination and such other measures as may be required; and
    3. the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property.
  2. To achieve adequate nutrition for all in order to promote good health and self-sufficiency.
  3. To provide adequate health care, commensurate with the health needs of Malawian society and international standards of health care.
  4. To manage the environment responsibly in order to—
    1. prevent the degradation of the environment;
    2. provide a healthy living and working environment for the people of Malawi;
    3. accord full recognition to the rights of future generations by means of environmental protection and the sustainable development of natural resources; and
    4. conserve and enhance the biological diversity of Malawi.
  5. To enhance the quality of life in rural communities and to recognize rural standards of living as a key indicator of the success of Government policies.
  6. To provide adequate resources to the education sector and devise programmes in order to—
    1. eliminate illiteracy in Malawi;
    2. make primary education compulsory and free to all citizens of Malawi;
    3. offer greater access to higher learning and continuing education; and
    4. promote national goals such as unity and the elimination of political, religious, racial and ethnic intolerance.
  7. To enhance the dignity and quality of life of persons with disabilities by providing—
    1. adequate and suitable access to public places;
    2. fair opportunities in employment; and
    3. the fullest possible participation in all spheres of Malawian society.
  8. To encourage and promote conditions conducive to the full development of healthy, productive and responsible members of society.
  9. To recognize and protect the family as a fundamental and vital social unit.
  10. To respect and support the elderly through the provision of community services and to encourage participation in the life of the community.
  11. To govern in accordance with the law of nations and the rule of law and actively support the further development thereof in regional and international affairs.
  12. To strive to adopt mechanisms by which differences are settled through negotiation, good offices, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
  13. To promote law and order and respect for society through civic education, by honest practices in Government, adequate resourcing, and the humane application and enforcement of laws and policing standards.
  14. To achieve a sensible balance between the creation and distribution of wealth through the nurturing of a market economy and long-term investment in health, education, economic and social development programmes.
  15. To introduce measures which will guarantee accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity and which by virtue of their effectiveness and visibility will strengthen confidence in public institutions.

14. Application of the principles of national policy

The 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.

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