A five -judge Constitutional Court panel have their hands clean and they are not compromised as they refused to receive bribes which could have tainted their determination in the presidential elections petition case.
High Court of Malawi judges Healy Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo make up a five-judge Constitutional Court panel and they have until February to determine the case in which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima are disputing the President Peter Mutharika re-election in May 2019 polls.
The judges have been approached by some individuals to bribe them so that their ruling should favour a particular party in the petition case.
But the judges reported the matter to Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda who in turn asked Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba confirmed the graft-busting body launched its investigations after receiving a complaint from the Chief Justice.
The decorum and the perfectly ethical behaviour of the judges to refuse to be bribed has won hearts of many stakeholders that a ruling from the Constitution Court in the presidential case will not be corrupt justice.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, social and governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said it is absolutely imperative that people have full faith and confidence in the judicial process.
“Of course, the one who is likely to bribe judges is one who feels he didn’t have a strong case. In other words, one who feels would lose the case. But granted that none (including the one who attempted to bribe judges) has prior knowledge about the “Concourt” verdict (if leaked) it is not guaranteed that the verdict would automatically go against the attempted corrupter,” said Munthali.
“The verdict may be in favour of the ‘attempted corrupter’ despite his temptations being rejected by the judges. In other words, the judges will base their verdict on the evidence presented in court not the attempted bribery. The attempted bribery would be treated as a separate issue,” he added.
However, Munthali pointed out that the act of attempting to bribe judges will have “serious implications” in as far as the acceptance or respect of the court verdict is concerned.
“For example, if the implicated one in this saga is from DPP then the opposition (UTM and MCP) and other stakeholders would automatically expect a verdict that is in favour of Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima (of MCP and UTM). In the event the verdict is in favour of MEC (Malawi Electoral Commission) and President Peter Mutharika they will not believe it, and they will argue that the Judges yielded to the bribe despite the Chief Justice reporting of the same to ACB.
“In the same vein, the vice versa will apply if the implicated one is from UTM or MCP where DPP supporters will automatically expect a verdict in favour of President Mutharika. You see how tricky the situation is.”
Munthali stressed that whosoever attempted to bribe the judges has done more harm to the country by putting the acceptability and respect of the Court verdict in jeopardy.
“At a time when every stakeholder has been working towards creating a conducive political environment for acceptability and respect of the Court verdict, it is unfortunate to see this.
“If truth be told, the ConCourt verdict might already be passed by the Court of public opinion immediately the identity of the one who attempted to bribe judges is revealed. Good people this is no laughing matter,” said Munthali.
He said immediately the public knows who attempted to bribe the judges a judgement will be made by public opinion and it would be difficult to reverse such a public verdict during the day the judges will be giving their verdict not based on public opinion or hearsay but evidence.
ACB has since said it cannot disclose any further details of the bribery complain.
But ACB boss Matemba said the bureau is pursuing it with the urgency it deserves “as well as other written complaints that we also received from different sources and interested stakeholders.”
He said:“You may wish to know that the complaints that the ACB received are not against any political party or nay of the parties to the presidential elections case, but against specific individuals.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :