Justice Minister says judges strike illegal: Judiciary ‘holding Malawi to ransom’

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu has said judges and magistrate who will be withholding their labour from Wednesday to join the ongoing judiciary strike will be acting unconstitutionally.

Tembenu:  Judiciary is part of government hence their strike is unconstitutional

Tembenu: Judiciary is part of government hence their strike is unconstitutional

The Judiciary has asked government to implement a salary adjustment for its staff to correspond with that of the civil service, as per Clause 44 (2) of the Judiciary’s conditions of service, but with agreed percentages specifically for Judiciary.

The demands of the Judiciary are contained in a letter which Supreme Court of Appeal judge Lovemore Chikopa, who chairs the Working Committee on the Terms and Conditions of Service of the Judiciary, wrote to the Attorney General copied to Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Chief Secretary to the Government, Solicitor General, principal secretary for the Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD), chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament and Ministry of Finance budget director

The Judiciary’s demands included a new Toyota VX V8 engine vehicle for the Chief Justice and 36 new vehicles for judges, which are estimated to cost K1.6 billion and free housing for staff.

The executive arm of government says the demands will not be met due to current economic turmoil.

Reacting to impending strike by judges and magistrates who threatened to join judicial support staff, Justice Minister Tembenu said “by deciding to go on strike, as an arm of Government, the Judiciary is effectively abdicating its constitutional responsibilities.”

Tembenu said the Judiciary is aware that Government (which includes the Judiciary, Legislature and Executive) is actively pursuing cashgate cases in the courts and that the Judiciary is a key player in the handling of these cases.

“It is general knowledge that the cashgate cases have generated national, regional and international interest. Therefore, the Judiciary’s stated intention to go on strike at this point is tantamount to holding the people of Malawi to ransom. In any case, it is a tragedy for a whole arm of Government to shut down in the manner proposed and deny the people of Malawi their right to access justice,” state the Justice Minister.

Tembenu said the Judiciary’s demand for a salary adjustment corresponding to the adjustments occasioned by the restructured salaries in the Civil Service is unacceptable.

“For that demand to be accommodated, it will defeat the whole purpose of the harmonization policy adopted by Government in 2005. In any event, it is an anomaly to describe the salary restructuring and harmonization as a general increment and to be used as a basis for the current demand,” said Tembenu.

“Further, in line with section 114 of the Constitution which provides ‘that salaries, allowances and benefits of holders of Judicial office shall be increased at intervals so as to retain their original value’, Government offered to bring the salaries of the Judiciary to the same level as those obtaining in the Civil Service and to add on top of that a 15% increment.

“This proposed adjustment would have put the salaries of the Judiciary above those in the Civil Service. The Judiciary has flatly rejected this proposal,” explained the minister.

Tembenu said government has engaged the Judiciary on their demands and has explained why they cannot be accommodated in full due to the current economic situation.

“The Judiciary has refused to compromise and this has led to the current impasse,” he said.

He faulted the Judiciary for interpreting their Terms and Conditions of Service as providing for purchase of new vehicles to every newly appointed Judge “though this is not expressly states in the Terms.”

On the salary adjustment, Justice Minister maintained that the position of government is that what has happened in the Civil Service is a “salary restructuring exercise and not a general increment “as envisaged in Judiciary’s Terms and Conditions of Service

Tembenu appealed to the judiciary “to live up to their constitutional mandate and responsibilities in the interest of the people of Malawi.”

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bwititi
Guest

ZONSEZI NDI MAXON MBENDERA NDI ANZAKE…KULENGEZA MPHWEPWA YA MUTHU KUTI IKHALE MTSOGOLERI BWAMPINI NGATI AMENEYI LERO MALAWI WAFIKAPO SOPANO

Arthur G.M. Mtambo
Guest

SALARY SCALES IN GVT ———- SORRY.

A MALAWI TIMACHITILANA NSANJE KWAMBIRI IZI SIMU BOMA LOKHA AYI INGALE MUKAPANE OBWERA, AKUNO KU MALAWI, KUMINDA,PAMUSEU, MUSINJE, MUNYANJA, MUMULENGALENGA, MUZIPATALA, MASUKULU,MABWALO A NDEGE, NDI MALO ENA OTERO SANJE ZOKHA-ZOKHA, ANTHU ENA AKUDA SAFUNA KUTI A AMALAWI AZAWO APEZE BWINO AYI KOMA IWO OKHA BASI THAWI ZONSE.

kachikho
Guest
It appears there is total madness in Malawi. Government has no money but they decided to increase civil servants’ salaries which has triggered demand by people who work for the Judiciary for similar treatment as agreed with government. Now the ACB staff do not want the gravy train to leave them behind they also demand similar treatment. After all if there is money for the civil servants there should be money for them as well. What next it will be other service providers such as ESCOM , Water Boards, City and District assemblies , University staff etc. These are difficult… Read more »
chicco
Guest
I don’t see the reason why the so called Judicials should need this money at the time we,Malawians are in need of them. Have they seen themselves superior because they are dealing with Cashgate cases? Does the amounts mentioned in these cases in the government’s accounts? It could be wiser if you could say that ‘any case concerning Cashgate, the suspect should pay a refundable fee if found not guilty’ so that those Cashgaters who want their cases to run faster, will pay and if found guilty,you share the fee among yourself. That could be a better business to deal… Read more »
Jando
Guest

Money or no money dialogue and contact on a negotiating table in good faith be encouraged to settle the labour disputes,and not through press conferences which just flare up the volatile situation.

Manolo
Guest

What is constitutional about The President and his “wife” siphoning money from NAC and different ministries and organizations. Mr Tembenu you have not said a word about that. What is constitutional about the President bribing the media sir?????

Taelos
Guest

These are selfish servants,government should restructure them in civil service not as parastatal

pyepye
Guest

Please give them their money. Mukuwakaniza ndi zanu? Apatseni, enafe milandu yathu ikuchedwa. Tikudikira money ifeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Cunningham
Guest

They broke every law to put this man on the political throne, what are they crying for now? A president that was enthroned at night can never do any better. Here we go Malawi, we have over four years to go. Munasekerera atatchula kuti ndi yemwe wawina

Umunthu
Guest

Very soon, mwala wokanidwa ukhala wa pa ngodya. Can’t you see section ya running mate ija ikugwira ntchito apa? Basi central region ikulowa m’bwalo

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