Blantyre, Malawi, May 9 (MaraviPost) _ With slightly over a week before crucial general elections, all courts in Malawi were Friday shut down at the beginning of an indefinite industrial action by junior staff.

“We are demanding house allowances that were approved for us by Parliament a month ago,” said Peter Magwanyama, spokesperson of the striking junior staff.

The striking judiciary workers, comprising court clerks, stenographers, secretaries and guards, blocked court entrances with tree branches preventing judges and magistrates from entering. They chanted songs denouncing the government of President Joyce Banda.

The strike comes at a crucial time as the country prepares to hold presidential, parliamentary and local government elections on May 20. If the strike is not resolved by polling day it means all electoral disputes that may emanate from the elections will not be held.

Malawi is also in the middle of trying a number of corruption and fraud cases surrounding the unprecedented looting of government money in a scandal dubbed ‘cashgate’. All the 70 ‘cashgate’ cases involving civil servants and businesspersons have been halted following the strike.

Magwanyama said all courts throughout the country will remain closed until their grievances are resolved.

“We have been engaging management on the issue of house allowance which was approved by Parliament a month ago to no avail, thus as junior staff we have resolved to go on strike and shut the courts,” he said.-maravipost

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