Beware of farting in public: DPP to reintroduce traditional courts – Malawi Justice Minister

Malawi’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wants to create parallel ‘traditional’ legal systems and give legal authority to ‘ chiefs and lay persons’, Ministre of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu has said.

Tembenu (right) with President Mutharika: Reintroducing chiefs charge against Joyce Banda
Tembenu (right) with President Mutharika: Reintroducing traditional courts

According to Tembenu,  chiefs  will be at the helm of the traditional courts.

Chiefs will rule over their subjects, deciding on cases and handing down punishments, with near complete control over people and land.

Tembenu announced this in Lilongwe on Friday on the sidelines of the meeting which  the minister, together with Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Atupele Muluzi, had with chiefs in the country to expound the contents of the Land Bill.

He said government will start with one traditional court in each region and, would roll out at district level.

“These courts will have all the proceedings overseen by the chiefs, and conducted in vernacular because sometimes it’s difficult for concerned parties to follow a case through translation as it is done at magistrate’s court,” said Tembenu.

Tembenu,  a trained lawyer,  further said there was already in place Local Courts Act recognizing establishment of the traditional courts and that it was just a matter of evoking it.

The DPP government was widely condemned  over local courts bill  which was introduced by George Chaponda because of the  bizarre crimes that were recognised, such as  trespassing on burial places, insulting the modesty of women “writing or uttering words with intent to wound religious feelings” and “fouling the air (Kuphwisa)” – to promote “public decency”.

But the more important problem was that it created a parallel, largely unregulated local legal system.

Human rights groups are concerned, however, that these courts could end up playing an entirely different role, a role similar to that played by local courts the last time round, when as Traditional Courts they were used to silence political opposition during one-party rule in the country.

But  Tembenu said the chiefs were already in-charge of adjudication of disputes at local level and it was only proper for the local courts to return for them to administer.

The chiefs have since received the news with excitement saying it would empower them even more in solving disputes at local authority level.

“It is a very welcome development and quite exciting to hear that the local courts will return and that, we, chiefs, will own and chair them,” said Senior Chief Chikumbu of Mulanje.

The meeting drew chiefs from across the country among them, Paramount Chiefs Chikulamayembe, Lundu, and Senior Chiefs Lukwa and Mwankhunikira.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Winston Msowoya
Winston Msowoya
5 years ago

Mr.justice Minister,if you have nothing to do,please just remain on your seat and get free money as you all now do.Aren’t you ashamed to discuss the word “fart” in public?As the Minister of Justice,there are so many loopholes to mend,for instance,rampant corruption among top government and parastatal officials,general crime which is the highest in Southern Africa,instead of involving untutored Chiefs to spearhead national legal standards.Mr.Minister,this sort of mischief would encourage massive pandemonium in legal system leading to lawlessness in our society in the country already in that course.Fake PhDs attribute to inefficiency and lack of transparency.Lastly Mr.Minister,you are acting as… Read more »

5 years ago

This is an a house strategy for prosecuting any suspected political cases such as the Kamuzu’s Muwalo M’tumayo style + ………….!! Takuwelengani mukufuna kumanga ndi kupha anthu osalakwa inu……………….!!!

John Black
5 years ago

The minister is creating parallel structures, a crime for which many have been ousted from political parties. Chiefs given complete control is bad: they are not democratically elected and the history of corruption and nepotism is all over. Some chiefs are good, some chiefs are not. Such an erratic institution, of which many chiefs have no education in law and rights should not be given a blank cheque to judge their subjects. Remember teh separation of powers: the executing arm and the judiciary arm of government must be separated to prevent abuse of power. Here the chief would be both.… Read more »

Read previous post:
Malawi has been on autopilot for far too long,  things must change!

As Malawians are beginning to digest the presidential directive to eat mice and grasshoppers as a way of beating hunger,...