Exclusive interview with Malawi ex-Attorney General: Kaphale says poll case offers ‘mouthwatering academic dish’

Former Attroney General  (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale a Senior Councel  (SC) has returned to private practice as a lawyer  well known for taking up cases involving high-profile individuals in society. Nyasa Times solicited an exclusive interview with Kaphale who has been a lawyer for 29 years and has previously served in the public sector as chief legal counsel for the Malawi Revenue Authority. He is now back to Kalekeni Kaphale Lawyers, a private legal firm.

Kaphale: t was a tough period for the office of the Attorney General.

Nyasa Times interview excerpts:

Nyasa Times: How have you been faring since you left office end of June, 2020?

Kaphale: Very well, actually. Only that I am somehow exhausted as I never took a break but went straight to my law firm. It had been a hectic second half of 2019 as, immediately after the elections, there came the post – elections litigation and thereafter preparations for fresh elections. It was a tough period for the office of the Attorney General.

Nyasa Times: How do you rate your first term in office as Attorney General and the second and final term?

Kaphale: I would not call the first term a walk in the park. There was significant litigation, the most important one being the Malawi Mobile litigation at the COMESA Court. Added to that it was my first time on that job. However, the first term was far much easier compared to the second one. Of course, I knew when the offer came for me to serve another term that I would be flying headlong into a vortex with elections looming and what normally comes after that. But then, I have always cherished a challenge or two and these drive me as a person. So, when the offer came along, I took it with both hands and the rest, as they say, is history.

Nyasa Times: Any comments on the Presidential Elections case and its aftermath?

 Kaphale: Well, that was perhaps the most significant public law litigation any lawyer would wish to have participated in either side of the aisle and I am privileged to have been part of it. The result was seismic, of course. My client lost as you know, and my office had to counsel them on the way forward.

The case is important in the legal history of Malawi and for the various lessons it offers to all and sundry and especially to the legal and political fraternity. Some of the lessons have already been absorbed, but a lot more are to be discovered as we move along as a nation.

The loss was painful,  but having been at the bar close to 30 years now, the pain was nothing new as every lawyer has in their career suffered a loss or two. What is important in every such scenario is for one to learn their lessons and move on with life.

It is a pity that up until now, academics have not yet done and published  comprehensive analyses of the judgment from all available angles and I wish they did that sooner than later. The case offers useful insights into constitutional law and theory, statutory exegesis or hermeneutics, the law of evidence, and in several other areas. Unfortunately, having participated in the fray, I am ill -suited to have a go at analyzing it. It offers a mouthwatering academic dish, I must say, and I do not mean it in any negative sense.

Nyasa Times: How are you adapting to life after office?

Kaphale: The past six months have been quite hectic and I have had no time to take a break as I have had to quickly re- educate myself on various aspects of private law work that I was not able to constantly practice in the former office.  At the same time I am trying to improve the firm’s brand as well as mentor and supervise the young lawyers under my tutelage.

Nyasa Times: What is your assessment of the quality of public legal services in Malawi?

Kaphale: To be honest, our young men and women in Government legal services are a rare breed. Most of them are young and still getting their training, but their enthusiasm to work under very difficult circumstances, with lots of files and very limited resources humbles me immensely. I think these need to be treasured, recognized and rewarded. I was only able to handle the office because of the support they offered and long may they continue to serve the motherland. These are the unsung heroes and heroines that are holding the public legal fabric together. The challenge, always, is how to retain them and most are lost to industry, and surprisingly, even to parastatals! You cannot force them not to leave as they have the liberty to seek jobs elsewhere, but I believe there is need for co-ordination between Government and parastatals on the issue of poaching lawyers from each other.

Nyasa Times: Any last word?

Kaphale: It was a very rare privilege serving Government at that level on two occasions, but every good thing must eventually come to an end. That office is always in very capable hands, and this time around perhaps even better hands, and that should comfort all of us. Having practiced privately for six months, I am enthralled by the peacefulness of private legal work, where you only have your client to handle and not the whole world. It is another world out here.

That said, I always live on the positive side of things and I am sure that as a nation, we will forge ahead having emerged from a very divisive and fractious phase in our nation- building endeavor.

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mtete
mtete
7 months ago

The man knew very well that against all odds, MEC and APM had no case and would not win the 2019 May 21 election case. However he was aware and didn’t care a hoot about the the final cost since he would pocket a handsome percentage, win or lose. APM would see to that. He now will start to struggle to make a living although we know he has made dirty money Investments. I now understand why Kamuzu labelled lawyers as Liars. Have you seen how these people have become so rich in such a short time? Fortunately most are… Read more »

nafundo zalo
nafundo zalo
7 months ago

only to be understood by the academics.??? so that does not mean representing the local malawians.
they were all cadets. exchanging n transacting our monies among each other. no wonder they almost had a heart attack sweating like nobody’s business when grilled with question to explain their part of stories.
ngati kupani chiphwisi pakati pa azipongozi ako..
jeni ansa akulalikila kira mu church cake ku notingham ku UK. Jezebel winaso uyu.
azatifotokozera

masoambeta
masoambeta
7 months ago

Most lawyers think they are better than everyone because they read law. Infact some think they’re superhuman. This is the source of the arrogance and pomp we see on many lawyers who instead of interpreting the law they are now celebrities. Matama za ziii. Sindinena mayina koma mwawadziwa. Kunyenga akazi a eni. Kulemba za matama pa Facebook and chasing government contracts through back door methods. Btw, kodi ku chanko mumaphunzila umbava ndi mchitidwe onunkha umenewu??
Merry Christmas.

Chathengo
Chathengo
7 months ago

He never respected the court and now he will need the same court. Case lost before beginning.

Bitcoin is good
Bitcoin is good
7 months ago

Kaphale katundu muzito

Mbonga Matoga
Mbonga Matoga
7 months ago

Just out of interest, got a question for mr Kaphale, how much did you get paid for representing ECM in the elections case, and in your opinion, was the alleged payment legal? If it was not legal, will you be willing to pay back the taxpayers money?

The Sniper.
The Sniper.
7 months ago

Law is law, every one becomes a good person a lawyer or any other person if you follow laws in your land. This is not about school which you attended or where you are coming from. It is obvious if you loose any case which you believed yourself to go through and win it and feel the pains and try to have punches in the same. If politics has to be a problem, the Kaphale himself has to be blamed! Unless many of you, you don’t know the role of Attorney General in your own country. Kaphale was there to… Read more »

Kayamba ndiko chapita
7 months ago
Reply to  The Sniper.

You are 100% right bro, and he is shameful himself. What he did, it devalued his profile as a well known lawyer in Malawi.

Maggie Makono
Maggie Makono
7 months ago
Reply to  The Sniper.

Mr. Kaphale, plz, just go and jump into Lake Malawi, u r a fool. Thanks God, the election case was handled by mainly lawyers from the North, if it was handled by mainly lawyers from the south, (criminals) or Centre(stupid) , Peter Mathanyura Mutharika could hve won the election, so i say kudos to our brothers from the North, u removed the useless and dunderhead leader. To hell with aganyu from Mangochi.

Emmanuel means God is With Us.

You served the devil and got punished together. You are brilliant but once you start moving around with idiots like APM you become an idiot by association.

Monosile
Monosile
7 months ago

KK anakonza. Smartest lawyer ever.

The Sniper.
The Sniper.
7 months ago
Reply to  Monosile

You seem to be not knowing what the word win means to you. If your Kaphale is mashini according to your understanding, why to loose the case like that and the lost has visited him badly, look he was an Attorney General but now he is not, he was using Government Car and fuel, you think he is happy to loose all these things? Do tell me where on earth some one like him can be called mashini? We can simply put it in this way, he is mashini to your DPP not to Malawians who has made them suffer… Read more »

Monosile
Monosile
7 months ago
Reply to  The Sniper.

It was politics. The judges were all painted in politics. I think this can only be understood by people of a certain level of academic achievement.

The Sniper.
The Sniper.
7 months ago
Reply to  Monosile

Oh the word,,, Smart,,, check in the dictionary. If Kaphale was so smart according to your version, he would be still the Attorney General of the Republic of Malawi. The smartest people have taken it from him, sorry to say this, even Muhara would not be kicked out from the Secretary to the President if he was smart as well. You know why, these seats needs smart people! So tell me, how smart is your Kaphale in your mind? The way how he has answered the interview? Kikkkkkkk! Abulutu mamina okhaokha!

Monosile
Monosile
7 months ago
Reply to  The Sniper.

So you intrinsically agree that it was politics.

Noxy
7 months ago

Top notch Lawyer in Malawi Kalekeni Kaphale by his name.Very confident and composed and not overtaken by events.Thumbs Up

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