First female lawyer in Malawi army sues General Supuni over unfair treatment

Lieutenant Colonel Chanju Samantha Mwale, who is the first female lawyer in the history of the country’s army,   has applied for leave for judicial review on what she feels is unfair redeployment from her post as Deputy Director of Legal Services to  Staff Officer in the Directorate of Research and Development at Malawi Armed Forces College (Mafco).

Lieut Colonel: Chanju Mwale sues over the redeployment
General Supuni Phiri: MDF commander dragged to court

Chanju argues, according to court documents, filed by White and Cross Law Consultants at Lilongwe District Registry, that it was unreasonable for the Army to redeploy her based on suitability, and the redeployment process itself.

She feels the MDF didn’t satisfy the test of the redeployment obligation.

High Court udge Charles Mkandawire granted her leave to apply for judicial review but did not stop the  implementation of the decisions by the MDF and General Supuni-Phiri.

Among the reliefs Mwale sought was a declaration that the decision to relocate her from Kamuzu Barracks to Area 47 [Lilongwe], “is illegal, discriminatory, tantamount to harassment and endangerment”

“A declaration that the Malawi Defence Force Commander acted unlawfully and/or irregularly by ordering the relinquishment of the appointment of Deputy Director of Legal Services and ordering the applicant’s appointment as Staff Officer in the Directorate of Research and Development, the applicant being a lawyer by training and therefore suited to the Directorate of Legal Services and appointments therein,” reads another relief she sought.

She also sought a declaration that her new appointment by the MDF Commander is unlawful and irregular and that the new appointment is, in essence, a demotion without any reasons being given.

Chanju, 38-year-old, studied at Kamuzu Academy and then went to Chancellor College to pursue a Bachelor of Laws Degree.

After graduation, she joined the Judiciary as senior resident magistrate and stayed for two years before joining the military in 2004.

Chanju has undergone various courses and trainings, including being deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a military observer from 2010 till 2011 and taking part in military exercises at SADC level.

In 2014, she was awarded the United Nations (UN) Fellowship in International Law (of the sea) a prestigious fellowship which was sponsored by the Nippon Foundation of Japan.

During a published interview, Chanju said the military is a traditionally male dominated institution and proving oneself worthy is an uphill battle every single day.

“We still have a lot of ground to cover for women to be fully incorporated into the system. Mind sets need more adjustments and this applies to both males and females in the service. Changes can, however, be embraced if they stem from management and policy level to trickle down to ranks.

“All in all, I am proud of myself because I worked hard and sacrificed a lot to be where I am. It can be daunting because of the responsibilities I hold as a woman, lawyer and service member.”

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3 years ago

Her boss is simply training her in all spheres of millitary work so that when she becomes Army commander in future, she will have knowledge Of all millitary operations. She should not restrict herself to legal services alone . So madam remain focused as you rise Irrespective of any distractions you may meet along the way. You Are a role model to many a girl in Malawi and interbationally.

3 years ago

Zayambapo….too much bling bling a Chanju. Vuto ndilakuti vepi imakukanikani, supuni sanalakwitse po apa. Vayani ku Salimamukamwere kumeneko…promotions at Malawi Army are at the discretion of the Army General…pakakhala osakudziwa kuno umalilako. See even the court cannot reverse the decisions. Koma muchepetse uhule ndi Midori. Its shame to the service men and women mukaphula ma scandal anu aja nthawi ndi nthawi…

3 years ago

Once you join the Military, be prepared to be deployed to any department regardless of ones qualifications. The General has the right to move soldiers around to various departments. Soldiers are the Generals’ assets just like a football coach, he can deploy the defender to a mid field position chimodzimodzinso in the military. By challenging her transfer, the female Officer disobeyed a lawful command which is punishable by dismissal. We cant fight and win wars if we start questioning orders given by our superiors. MDF is not MBC or ADMARC, we are talking about the Army here. I would be… Read more »

3 years ago

Confronting with your superior on such trivial issues is not the best option. Just go and enjoy the lake in Salima. It is only for a short period. When you come back, it will be another boom! Director of Legal what what what.. All the best lad!

3 years ago

Azibambo kukhomeleratu uku poyerayera, mwayamba kumuopa munthu wa mayi

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