Delayed judgments dominate Malawi newspaper editorials: Chief Justice hailed for warning errant judges

Editorial comment in Tuesday’s newspapers ranged from The Nation commending Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda for acting on concerns  about delays by the Judiciary in concluding cases, to the flagship Daily Times  encouraging the crackdown on endemic corruption and unprofessionalism in the legal system as raised by Justice Esmie Chombo.

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda :  He took the concerns raised by the court users over overdue rulings seriously and directed all judges to finalise their outstanding judgements by September this year failing which action would be taken on them.

In her letter dated January 18 2018, Chombo – Judge President for Lilongwe High Court Registry – said she had been informed that some lawyers were paying court staff to misplace or destroy court files so as to frustrate case proceeding.

Generally, newspapers welcomed the Judiciary for resolving to ensure that there would be no unacceptable delays in the delivery of judgments and dealing with corruption.

The head of the Judiciary has warned that those who fail to deliver Judgements by September will be dealt by the Judicial Services Commission for disciplinary actions,

The Nation commended Chief Justice by issuing a stern warning to slow and errant judges that they will be disciplined should they not take heed of the concerns from court users raised during a meeting in Mangohci last week.

“We are aware that there are factors that also affect judges and other judicial officers’ performance in executing their duties such as shortage of personnel.

“We trust that the government and Judiciary leadership will also look critically at such matters to ensure the country has a vibrant and performing judicial system,” the paper said.

The issue  made front-page news in The Nation and top of page 3 in the Daily Times.

The flagship Daily Times wrote a comment headlined “Walk the talk, Chief Justice”.

It described Nyirenda’s warning as “heart-warming”, saying the directive for judges to clear their backlog of cases by September this year is a welcome development.

It also commented on the vow by Chief Justice to crackdown on corruption among judicial officers, which is reported to be rampant.

“All along, the judiciary has been living in denial. It treated the complaints as mere speculations as some concerned parties could not come in the open for fear of reprisals. Now that the Chief Justice has spoke, we see light at the end of the tunnel. We pray that the CJ will walk the talk on the issue,” the paper said .

University of Malawi law lecturer Mwiza Nkhata said delaying judgements were a ‘very’ sad state of affairs since there are some cases that even go further than eight years.

“There is often a combination of factors that leads to delays in judgments. Sometimes, it can be purely bureaucratic in the sense that judges are being allocated too many cases. The law in Malawi tries to mitigate this by giving judges vacations to write judgements. Sometimes delays are caused by individual judges, through plain laziness and a simple failure to be professional,” said Nkhata.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) has been engaging the Judiciary to sort out the problem.

The need for a time limit for delivering the judgement is not just to avoid delay, but also to prevent a miscarriage of justice.

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Maluzi BaKhili
4 years ago

Imagine mland wa Muluzi mpaka 12 years. There is no way he could have earned K1.7 billion in 10 years. The state intervened just because Atupele is with them. Actually Bakili sold udf to have the case quashed.AMalawi tili cheteee, Tisamadandaule kuti Kamuzu amatifinya. Ifetu ndife anthu opusa. We are shitholes from a shithole country. A fish rots from head to tail according to another thief Chaponda whose case is dragging.

4 years ago

milandu ya pa malawi pano ikakhala ya anthu ophuzila nde ma komishoni mbweee tagwilani ali mkati. koma oba mnkhuku ,mbuzi opanda bailout cigamulo within one week ndende 10 yezi

4 years ago

eh psa koka

Prince of shitholes
4 years ago

Is it anyone why Malawi is a shithole country country? Do these judges listen to Peter Tosh song in which he says judges smoke it and lawyers too. These people are very lazy and the worst of these courts is the Industrial Relations Court whereby dismissed workers fail to get justice in time. They are very simple cases which take less than two hours to hear. The IRC in Blantyre is saying it has a backlog dating to 2009. With the way we die surely get frustrated and do not receive their money. I hope the chief jsutice will take… Read more »

4 years ago

One case that has had its judgement delayed is the St Paul’s Catholic church vs Mrs Hamdan. Over 10 years now but no judgement. The church is failing to build a priest house and nursery school because of this delay. Donors from Italy and canada are failing to release money for church extension because of this delay. May through this comment those concerned dig this case and have it resolved once and for all. It’s a straight forward case. The key witness a professional surveyor Mr Mtegha gave all the required evidence to the Judge. Chief Justice please help us.… Read more »

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