‘Malawi President should relinquish powers to appoint sheriffs’

Participants in the Sherriff’s Act review consultative workshop in Mzuzu have proposed that powers to appoint sheriffs should be removed from the State President and be given to the Chief Justice to ensure effective  performance.

Speaking Thursday during the day-long workshop, the participants argued that since the sheriffs are appointed by the President, it becomes difficult for them to discharge their duties on ruling political party officials.

Sheriffs are individuals who are given power by the court to seize property of people who fail to settle debts of other people or organisations.

“Sheriffs know that they are appointed by the State President, so they fail to work professionally when it comes to property seizure of high-ranked ruling party officials.

Hiwa: Opened the workshop

“I, therefore, propose that this responsibility should be given to the Chief Justice to enable them discharge their duties effectively,” said one of the participants attracting applause from others.

According to the current Sheriff Act passed in 1968, the responsibility to appoint sheriffs lies in the hands of the State President.

Assistant Chief Law Reform Officer Chizaso Nyirongo described the current Sheriff Act as archaic and that reviewing it will have a positive effect to the country’s economy.

In her opening remarks Law Commissioner Gertrude Hiwa, SC, urged participants to make suggestions that can enable Malawi move forward with the reform process.

“The consultation process serves as a forum where Malawians are provided with opportunity and space to engage with the review process and thus, ultimately, own the outcome of a review process,” Hiwa said.

The regional consultative workshop also tackled issues pertaining to sheriffs’ appointments and their qualification.

Participants recommended that sheriffs should have a degree from a government recognized institution of higher learning. They further suggested that the sheriffs must be trained for at least six months in basic law as some may come from other disciplines.

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