……..Malawi Law Society asked to intervene

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s civil right watchdog Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) is on President Lazarus Chakwera’s head following the recent appointments of judicial staff by the Tonse Alliance administration to serve in foreign missions.

CDEDI in a statement made available to The Maravi Post on Thursday, July 1, 2021, says it is sad that the appointments are coming at a time when the Judiciary is faced with acute shortage of judges.

“CDEDI and, indeed, all well-meaning Malawians are dismayed with this kind of appointments of judges when the country has a pool of talent, and even career diplomats, that can ably represent the country and let our honourable men and women of the bench allow Malawians enjoy the services of the Judiciary without undue hindrances,” reads the statement signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa.

He added that the recent appointments from the Judiciary raise suspicions and speculations, especially the one that involves a judge, whose contract was recently extended to allow for smooth conclusion of one of the country’s high-profile murder cases that has dragged for over ten years.

“Malawians are now left wondering as to what becomes of the case of the murder case against Misonzi Chanthunya with Justice Esmie Chombo going away to the Embassy. This is the same judge whose contract was also extended solely to conclude the case of Paul Mphwiyo connected to the Cashgate case,” wonders the CDEDI Chief saying to say the least is smelly and unjustifiable.

It is in records that her contract was extended on grounds that the case is complex and no any other judge would be able to take it unless the trial begins again.

“Now we have this development, what message is the Tonse administration sending? This development, to some extent, confirms our fear, and that of other Malawians, that there is a big political invisible hand behind the dragging of this case,” says Namiwa.

As if this was not enough, Malawians also woke up on Thursday, July 1, 2021, to reports that Judge Agnes Patemba has also been appointed as the Deputy
Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

“Here is a judge who, in a space of months, has sent the right message to perpetrators of rape and defilement that their days are numbered, but is dubiously being asked to serve the country as an envoy! Truth be told, Judge Patemba brought hope that Malawi was on the right path in fighting rape and defilement; hence, only the Tonse Alliance administration knows why and how this appointment is in the interest of the country,” he says.

Namiwa says without mincing words, the development casts a ray of doubt on the Tonse
Alliance’s commitment to the promotion of the Rule of Law and access to timely justice.

“It is an open secret that the Judiciary is currently saddled with a backlog of cases, with some citizens waiting for justice for as long as over 21 years! As they say, justice delayed is justice denied. We at CDEDI, would like to ask President Chakwera to reverse such unsound appointments and, instead, consider appointing more judges to the bench. Otherwise, we can safely construe that sending the judicial staff to the foreign
missions is a ploy by the current administration to achieve its sinister motives by dangling carrots to people Malawians need more for the creation of a safer country,” he says

He has since appealed to the Malawi Law Society (MLS) to critically look at the development, and where necessary, take an action.

MLS is yet to respond to our questionnaire on what they make out of the concerns from CDEDI.

But registrar of the high court Gladys Gondwe has confirmed of the appointments and says the development has widen the already existing gaps in terms of judicial staff vacancies especially Judges.

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