Some of Malawi lawyers are a disgrace

Justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.” – Lord Chief Justice Hewart: R v Sussex Justices, ex-parte MacCarthy, 1924

The legal profession has always been held in awe and esteem but somehow it has also universally been tainted with sordid and underhand activities. Perhaps this is due to the flexibility that its members have to choose one of dual capacitieseither as prosecuting or defence attorneys under the noble assumption that everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.This is done in the interest of justice and the right to fair trial.

Malawi lawyers

Malawi lawyers

However, in the process, matters of conscience and ethics are sacrificed in the supposed pursuit of facts, fairness and, invariably, money; after all, a lawyers fame and fortunes are inextricably bound to his reputation in winning cases and not necessarily in just giving good legal advice. (Wouldn’t it be nice to sue a legal practitioner for giving wrong advice?!).

The desire to win cases and make moneyat any cost can motivate unethical,illegal and criminal conductand this is being manifested in Malawi today.In addition, greed – one of the seven deadly sins – seems to have taken root across the board with numerous allegations of wrong-doing amongst our legal minds, both in the Judiciary and amongst private practsing lawyers.

Whilst not wanting to deny anyone their right to work and earn a living, I take the view that all professionals must be guided by a set of acceptable rules and an upright moral code of conduct that preserves the integrity of their profession. Sadly, it would appear that this aspect is lost on the legal fraternity, whose members now regularly seem to be in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

Unfortunately, the Malawi Law Society, MLS, seems impotent as a self-regulatory institution to discipline its members and maintain its respect and public trust. In fact, the general feeling is that, on the contrary, the body has been so compromised that it is seen to shield and condone the disreputable behavior and dubious antics of its members, hiding behind technicalities of the law and deliberate legalese to blindfold an unsuspecting public to the misdeeds and inappropriate actions of incompetent, dishonest and scandalous lawyers.

What hope do we, as a nation, haveif those who are charged with ensuring fairness and justice become alleged accomplices, perpetrators and instruments of deceit, fraud, corruption and crime? More so, when the celebrated ones amongst the clan are suspected of high-level chicanery and a total lack of ethical behavior? Surely, what this points to is the death ofmoral values at the altar of mammon. And this is compounded by an emergent compromised political elite that has nurtured a culture of impunity and failed to establish the requisite moral high-ground to act as a beacon of hope for us to advance a transparent civilized society based on law and order.

How unfortunate that the miscreant behaviour of some of our laywyers is being exposed when we have our first-everpresident with a legal background, an accomplished and globally respected legal academic!One would expect a harsh tongue-lashing at his brethren in an effort to salvage the dignity and respect that the profession once enjoyed. More so, when a senior lawyer that has just been recently appointed to a high office embarrasses his whole government by getting arrested by the ACB on suspicion of tampering with witnesses in the on-going infamous, highly symbolic “CashGate Trials” that can make or break our immediate future as a nation.

And also, when people are questioning untenable positions by senior government officers who may not be in a position to exercise independence and objectivity as they are, effectively, simultaneously acting as both prosecutorsand defence attorneys in some of the trials. And also, how is a suspect allowed to act as a legal representative for other suspects in related CashGatecases?Intuitively, there is something wrong here and no amount of explanations can convince me, or the general public, otherwise.

Government, NGOs, civil society, the MLS, and perhaps indeed regional and international legal institutions, need to look into these issues if we are serious about the course of this country.Just like in CashGate, there should be no sacred cows in cleaning up the soiled image of the Judiciary and thelegal profession. As an aside, despite the commendable efforts by the current administration to attract investment to Malawi, no sane foreign investor will feel safe to invest in a country where the legal system and its professionals are suspect.

The unraveling stories of decadence amongst our lawyers comes at a fragile time when the Malawian people have virtually lost trust in government and the suspect political class; when the legislative arm of government has proved to be a useless appendage for checking executive abuse of power and failed to ensure greater transparency and accountability on behalf of the people.

Whilstpracticing lawyers may not necessarily be in the Judiciary as the third arm of government, judges are glorified lawyers who have been given the noble responsibility of interpreting the lawand passing judgement, ostensibly without fear or favour. Therefore, if its members and those of the legal fraternity of which they are a part, are embroiled in shady dealings, unsavoury acts and behavior, it only follows that the whole Judiciary itself will be held in suspicion.

And reported media revelations of dubious prosecutorial arguments, judge-shopping, questionable judgements and sentences, abuse of client trust accounts, conflicts of interest and corruption are feeding a frenzy of public speculation as to the honour and integrity of our learned men and women blessed (cursed?) with letters of the law. We are creating fertile ground for a total breakdown of trust in the whole government machinery, which could have disastrous consequences if not timely checked.

Coupled with the lack of closure on the fractious May 2014 elections, a deteriorating economic scenario with a people faced with an ever-escalating cost of living and the apparent polarization of our sadly beautiful nation along regional, tribal and ethnic lines,a lack of trust in the Judiciary and lawyers simply adds salt to the wounds of an injured, angry, suffering people.People are now cynically referring to the Ministry of Injustice and the machinations of the ‘illegal’profession!

Government, together with MLS,would be well-advised to grab the bull by its horns and deal with the cancer that has brought the legal profession into disrepute. Rogue lawyers and a cavalier attitude amongst the legal fraternity have become a big disgrace to this nation!

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(Chikavu Nyirenda is a Senior Lecturer in Banking and Finance at The Catholic University of Malawi and contributes, in his own capacity,a weekly Monday column, ‘Views from the Sunset,’published in The Daily Times. This article appeared in this week’s edition on 20 October, 2014).

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39 thoughts on “Some of Malawi lawyers are a disgrace”

  1. Opportunist says:

    Wow! So I’m not the only one robbed by these thugs who use legal jargon to subdue when confronted. I was robbed of mwk90 pin in 2006 he thinks I’ve forgotten doesn’t know the Hiroshima ill drop on him.

  2. Honesty says:

    Master, I second you 100%, illiteracy really increases problems in Malawi.
    Malawian’s just agree to whatever, whether good or bad just in the name of Peace/respect and poverty, hence legal professionals enhances illiteracy, people just agree to whatever the court approves, while from the backdoor these Lawyers drink, eat and womanize together and rise up against one thing or else agree on one thing, sidelining the truth and going for money.
    As a result only Rich people succeed, and Poor people remain poor because they have no back up. It is Sad to note these Legal professionals play clients(Malawians) like Fools, upon some cases like 2014 Electoral or other people’s and company cases, no one can argue that they meet behind doors and agree to either one of them(two Lawyers with different clients on one issue) give up then share a large sum of money afterwards.

    VERY VERY STUPID INDEED. MALAWIANS ARE THEN LEFT ON AN EXPOSED GROUND WITH NOTHING CONCRETE TO THINK ABOUT HENCE LEFT CONFUSED, MINDS NOT WORKING PROPERLY, AS A RESULT ECONOMY PERFOMANCE IS PENALIZED.

  3. Achimidzimidzi says:

    Point of correction!!, Nyasatimes how come, just below the picture you have written “Malawi Lawyers”. while the people in the picture are the thiefs in Malawi? That should read “Professional and Systematic thiefs In Malawi”

    This is bad Journalism…

  4. Chiefjusticene!!!! says:

    The Chief Justice herself knows the truth of what people are talking about here. We have a long endless list of crooked lawyers in Malawi and one has just swindled my money few months ago and tried to report to MLS and since this body is toothless as they shared this swindled money with them nothing has been done today. May be let us try ICC otherwise our judicial system has completely failed and this is very shameful to the Chief Justice herself or try to replace a man otherwise this one AZIPITA KU CATHOLIC UKO KU C.I. KUPEMPHERA TOO MUCH because she is mixing up with GOD and satan in the same room and let people choose thus what this Chief Justice is practicing, There is no fair trial in these courts if you are an ordinary person here in Malawi. Judges and Lawyers are busy in-riching themselves. May be try a man to be Chief Justice and completely abolish toothless MLS which is TOO USELESS.

  5. Timkanenafe says:

    This article is not even helping Malawians because this body you call yourself MLS is just SHIT and must be abolished here in Malawi. Out of 100% of our lawyers in Malawi 96.4% are THIEVES and this time around they are busy driving posh cars,building palaces out of the money from swindled clients. It is better to hire best lawyers from outside Malawi if one has the money otherwise our lawyers and judges are ALL THIEVES and do not blame their school CHANCO no!!! The problem is with our judicial system because both the lawyer and the judge want to RICH faster before they work . Lawyers in Malawi VAKUBA NADI. Anyone who has a case in these courts MULI PA VUTO LALIKULU.
    If you happen to win a case then your own lawyer who represent you in court will heavily robe you through what they cheat as legal fees KUBA KWENI KWENI.

  6. spot on says:

    the solution is an overhaul of the law program at chanco,i suspect its the one to blame,and make sure only the smart and responsible ones pass exams,like what they do in medical school,make sure your exams are scrutinized by international examiners,stop getting mbuli in that proffesion,give students tough exams and stuff,this will make theyr brains learn responsibility,trust me,or try to compare a 20 year old medical graduat and a 45 year old law graduate,the former is more responsible and wise than the later-reason? the way how these people are taught in school-wake up,if you are not carefull,this country will collapse,thieves and idiots should not b entrusted with such huge responsibilities in society please,malawi mukumufunira zabwino koma?

  7. CHITIPA AND NTCHISI says:

    I totally agree with the above coment and at one time the judge told me that goverment has so many ways of frustrating people and even the the law enforcing agency through the attorney general stole my wealth only GOD will judge them.

  8. Redeemed says:

    Laywers are liers, the bible teaches us not to hold false witness, but these folks make enormous amount of money by doing so. They lack conscience to such an extent of even betraying there own clients whose faith is solely place in them. I dispise this profession so much that if either of my sons will happen to choose to persue a career in law, I will not hesitate to distribute all his educational savings amongs those less fortunate.

  9. Nyandeni says:

    Thanks Chikavu for coming up with such an eye opening article, although it it like you wrote it in a hurry and it has not been edited. Indeed the behaviour of lawyer these days leaves a lot to be desired. I have respect for the good old lawyers like MacLaws Makwiti, Modicai Msisha, Temwa Nyirenda, Bazooka Mhango and their friends who never behaved like lawyers of this time. It is like “Getting Reach Fast” is part of their curriculum at Chancellor College. They would throw their professional ethics to the dogs in order to get rich. As somebody has said in the comments, these lawyers come from the same school of law and they know each other well. They read the same books from Chanco Library reserve. When they come out some become prosecutors, others become defence lawyers and the others become judges. In such a scenario there is bound to be collusion. Hence, the cashgate issue in which lawyers are at the central point. Their controlling Association is also run by the same crop of lawyers. Do you think things such a body can have teeth?
    We need to do something as a nation to stop this nonsense. Otherwise will continue to have a rotten judiciary.

  10. Salima says:

    MLS is rotten these lawyers are playing with Malawians,Am appealing to Hon Minister of Justice and Madam Msosa to look into this Lawyers Issue very seriously with sober minds so that Malawians should trust them.Atidyera mokwanila in the name seeking for Justice and saying justice is a process.

  11. Bololo says:

    He is an Alumnus of Kachebere Seminary.

  12. mitu says:

    mlandu wa Kamuzu Banda anabwela lawyer modzi, kugonjetsa anthu athu alaw muno chifukwa chayani?ngati pali lawyer akumva ayankhe kasambala akuyimbidwa mlandu wakuba ndalama komanso iye akuyimila mbava zoba ndalama zomwezo ndiyekuti pali logic,kuli ma lawyer ambiri akhoza kutenga mimlanduyo MLS anthandizeni anthu musamadikile zinthu kulakwika.tikayamba ku hire ama lawyer aku south africa muzikhiya kuno kwathu kumudzi ku malawi anthu amaloweza zochita osati kuziwa Nditakhala ku cape nthawi yina lawyer wina anadipempha kuti asute fodya pamene ndinakhala ndisanayakhe ,ndinafunsa chifukwa chiyani?anati ife ndianthu amwambo sitiloledwa kulakwa nchito imantha.if you check from 80s to 90s u will find good lawyers than today why today they got fake papers obtain just 4year

  13. Zeze says:

    On the other hand, there are these ” judicial officers” called Magistrates (1st, 2nd grade etc) who are milking poor people in rural areas with their kangaroo courts and stupid judgements. They ask for something in order to give suspended sentences. They even come up with judgements over a “kuche-kuche” drinking spree. No moral ethics and do not preserve the integrity of this noble profession. My God, the Judiciary is completely rotten.

    Madam Chief Justice, do something. If you think am joking about your officers put forward your email address on this page so that I can give you one of the many straight forward examples of how your officer got money from me by “false pretense” and how your subordinate officers have been covering him up! Am prepared to share it with you. Shame to crooked lawyers, shame to crooked Judicial officers (or is it all of them?) Shame on you bad people spoiling this beautiful country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Umbava wayamba kale says:

    Most (some?) Malawi Lawyers are a disgrace. Stolen goods found at their houses, prostitutes damping babies at their offices, being friends of the most notorios criminals in town, stealing money from their clients, the list is endless The Law Society of Malawi and those who were truely called to the profession, there is a good piece of writing here. Remember that in many countries including the UK, law is not regarded as a noble profession anymore. Infact i know of many good friends who failed in certain courses and ended up taking law. Ask Atupele Muluzi. Dont dilute it even more here.

  15. clement says:

    I think the only good lawyer is a dead one. Judges give out suspicious verdicts, defence lawyers interfere with investigations, prosecutors receive bribes, etc. And then they call themselves “learned”. Shame

  16. Some?????? I doubt. Lawyers are milking insurance companies without any mercy. They have reached to an extent of hunting for people to frame up accidents. Too ashamed with lawyers in Malawi…

    1. me says:

      Just count how many are on cashgate arrest list. 90% of lawyers are corrupt. ki ki ki

  17. peter says:

    I agree with Chikavu on this issue. With so much unethical behaviour among our legal gurus, I will be happy when we stop appointing MEC chair and other important posts based on legal background of individuals.

    1. ujeni says:

      Kaphale is one of the worst corrupt lawyers in Malawi. You go to drinking joints you fund plenty of them boosting of corrupt practices

  18. Phwetembwe says:

    Lawyers are generally crooks. Look at Mbendera & his messed up elections, Peter & his midnight six, retired Chief Justice Banda & JB, the list is endless. Don’t expect justice from these unjust hearts. The big problem here is tribalism which impedes reasoning so that we can elect clean politicians who will clean the mess. How do expect some tainted dogs to clean the mess? Malawi will remain a poor country for a very long time

  19. Cure says:

    Doctors in Malawi can help us cure this ill. Just stop giving some of these thieves ARVs and TB treatment- just top up the bottles with vitamin B complex basi. Mxxi

  20. Kes munthali says:

    Part of the problem also comes from the fact that more less all the lawyers are being produced from one institution. Along with this a sort of “comradeship” has been developing, regardless of what year you graduated you are classed as part of this clique. Those who are corrupt are know, what they get up to is known, how cases are won, how cases die a sudden death, how dubious judgements come about etc all these are know. They is a famous lawyer cum politician who has over 5cases in the public domain in the last 6 years of swindling clients funds, yet is still practising . Cashgate as we know it, I can tell you now has been there for atleast the last 7 years also, as am sure the forensic audit funded by the germain government will show, and at the heart of these will again be a group of lawyers, with a certain lawyer again at the heart of this.

  21. Ineyo Woona says:

    Then there is this lawyer, Ishmael Wadi, how he swindled/tricked money belonging to a church in Lilongwe. The church complained to the law society, in the days of president john mwakhwawa and todate nothing has been done. its now over 6 years

    And because the Malawi law society could not summon and discipline one of their own, that case has since been committed to God. Wadi and his cohorts thought he had stolen church money, no, it was God’s money.

  22. petrol kali says:

    A mambulasa ndi ti azinzanu mukumva zimenezi. kupeza ndalama cholinga azinyenga koma ma lawyer abale kutamika mu ma township ndi kunyenga zowona zimenezi

  23. john muhulele says:

    the association of lawyers is competent one it cant just be revoking practising licences from lawyers without being shrewd .Kasambala Raph is not guilt until proven as such by a competent court of law.

    1. me says:

      competent court comprising of fellow crooked lawyers my foot!

  24. Master says:

    Malawi governance problems can be summarised as follows, 30 % poor leadership we choose bad leaders, 45% is legal profession, this profession has killed this country in all sectors, from elections to economics, business and 25% on illiteracy levels of Malawians has also contributed to the political mediocrity in this country!!!!

    1. MALAWIANMOM says:

      MASTER ,YOU NAILED IT RIGHT. AGREE WITH YOU 100%.

  25. Pacharo says:

    I totally agree with you 100%.

  26. J Boma says:

    Lawyers have always protected one another in Malawi for too long. The ones I know to have been debarred were Mutuwawira 30 years ago (May His Soul Rest in Peace) and one Kaliwo.

    These young legal thieves have been getting away with serious theft. One Chiphwanya, Kalua etc run away to RSA and cannot come back to Malawi. The AG should now jump in and put serious disciplinary leashes on them..

  27. mmihavani says:

    His Excellency the late Kamuzu Banda used to say that there are three noble professions; accountancy, law and medicine. At that time it was true. But now the legal profession is no longer noble because of these money-thirsty youthful lawyers (liars). The law society itself looks like a club of mafias intent on concealing illicit deeds. We have seen accountants and medical doctors disciplining and sanctioning their own members whenever they act unethically. But lawyers, no matter how disgraceful they behave, rarely condemn each other. They use 1860 technical jargon to mask their evil deeds. Accountants and medical doctors often times perform what is known as peer review- to check if one of their members served his or her client in a minimum professional standard that any competent member would do. If they find them wanting such members are sanctioned accordingly. But do lawyers do that? Search me! They hide behind client confidentiality. Fools!!! Very soon the society will judge them. Most of them come from poor background and when they taste money they think they are gods. Thumbs up Chikavu. We need courageous folks like you.

    1. Khuth'upa o'Machemba says:

      That HKB was elitist! He was a physician, so he thought doctors were “god”. There are many corrupt doctors, lawyers and accountants all over the world. Just as there are many in other professions. It is human nature to get corrupted to different extent, given certain enticements!
      How about this? In certain countries, pharmacists top the list on trustworthiness! But there are also very corrupt pharmacists out there.

  28. lufina says:

    but thank God there are clean Lawyers around who also detest the malignant cancer that has become of the once acclaimed noble profession in Malawi. The problem with Lawyers is the urge fresh out of CHANCO to live like the next Lawyer so they throw ethics to the dogs in the process in order to live in NYAMBADWE and drive the latest MERC in town. ask those senior lawyers how long it took for them to get to where they are.

  29. H. Davis kabeta says:

    This writter has really hit the nail on the head. Yes there are some malawians who can see things right. The mess of the Legal proffession in malawi in unheared of. Gone to the dogs indeed. Big thieves etc

  30. Johntk says:

    Someone reads our comments!!! Thank you! I mean how can there be a Law Society but with no laws to reign in its members? Ralph charged with cashgate, but gets allowed to defend someone else on the same case as he is charged with? I mean seriously? Then there are legal minds in the ruling PP who first were prosecutors but now are defence lawyers defending the same people who they were prosecuting. WTF is that!! And I just hope the ACB knows what they are doing coz this might end up costing the gvt lots of money in compensations as these arrests are becoming way too frequent, i mean does Malawi’s judicial system have enough resources and legal minds to handle and successfully prosecute such an increasing amount of thieves? Ooops i mean lawyers?

  31. mmihavani says:

    Chikavu you are right. Some of these lawyers are a disgrace to our society. They perpetrate crookedness instead of making sure that justice is dispensed. Most of them are childish, materialistic and too pompous for nothing. They call themselves ‘learned’ yet they just have a mere honours degree obtained after memorising old 1953 law books. Most of them can’t argue rationally and competitively in court; what they know is to obtain crooked injunctions only. They are always busy drinking and chasing skirts in town and you wonder whether they have time to read widely and research for their cases.

    1. Professor CJ says:

      Educated FOOLS!!

  32. Concerned Malawian. says:

    Big brains but DULL…………………………..

  33. Chindazi says:

    I do not understand what Malawi Law Society does……..thinks……..Eat the head with the points raised in the column…….

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