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Malawi High Court faults APM over Chief Justice’s forced leave

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda

The High Court in Lilongwe has faulted the former head of state Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and former chief secretary to government Lloyd Muhara over their decision to send Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justice of Appeal Edward Twea on forced leave pending retirement in June this year.

Earlier in June, Mutharika’s office issued a notice which said that Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda had been placed on leave pending retirement with immediate effect after the Chief Justice presided over a historical presidential election case which was ruled in favour of the then opposition leaders, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima.

But Lilongwe-based High Court Judge Charles Mkandawire issued the first order following an application by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and Association of Magistrates to restrain Mutharika and his Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara from taking any further action on the matter pending a judicial review.

High Court Judge Thomson Ligowe of the Mzuzu Registry granted yet another order with the same reliefs to the Malawi Law Society (MLS). But he said the Mzuzu matter should be consolidated with the one in Lilongwe.

Delivering a ruling on the matter today Thursday 27 August, 2020, Justice Charles Mkandawire said Mutharika and Muhara breached the doctrine of separation of powers when they made the decision.

The court has, however, pended its ruling on whether Mutharika and Muhara should individually pay for the cost of the case to avoid wasting tax payers money.

Meanwhile, all parties involved are expected to be invited to hear their side on the costs within the next seven days.

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