The five judges of the High Court of Malawi, who heard the landmark May 21 2019 presidential election nullification case, have reacted to their selection among three shortlisted nominees for the 2020 Chatham House prize in UK as “an honour” and that “ it’s a pride even to the country as a whole.”
Nyasa Times reported on Tuesday that the judges have earned international recognition after United Kingdom-based Chatham House—a world centre for research and analysis for international affairs— receivied the nomination because their bravery demonstrated in protecting the constitutional process during the presidential election case will improve the state of international relations.
“I and my four colleagues and indeed the entire Malawi Judiciary feel humbled by such an honour and it’s a pride even to the country as a whole,” said Judge Healey Potani, who chaired the five-judge panel that sat as the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), and received the nomination notification.
The notification letter was sent by Chatham House director Robin Niblett through a letter dated July 14 2020.
The judges who heard the case include Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo, Redson Kapindu and Dingiswayo Madise.
While the judges are getting international honour, former president Peter Mutharika, a professor of international law, opined that the Judiciary erred in its judgement and claimed that the international community was laughing at Malawi because of the judgements that nullified his ‘tippex victory’.
Malawi’s leading daily newspaper, The Nation, in an editorial comment stated that it is gratifying to not that for once, Malawi, which hitherto made headlines because of mediocrity, including poverty and high levels of corruption, is “a model in terms of democracy and judicial independence.”
The paper pointed out that besides the Judiciary the media, civil society, security agencies and many others selflessly worked to ensure smooth processes were undertaken.
It said while the country is being counted among the best because of the performance of the five judges , “the momentum or gains will be eroded if mediocrity is once again left to creep in.”
Reads the editorial in conclusion: “ The world is watching over us. The judiciary and indeed new Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Chifundo Kachale have set the bar very high in terms of the standards. The challenge now lies in sustaining the same.”
Meanwhile, dean of the Faculty of Law at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, Sunduzwayo Madise, in quotes reported by the same daily, said even if the judges fail to claim the ultimate prize, the shortlist had sent a message to the world that Malawi “can rise above pettiness”.
Said Madise: “This is a huge achievement and positive for Malawi. The nomination shows Malawi’s levels of maturity in terms of democracy and the rule of law.”
The five judges on February 3 2020 nullified the presidential election case over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management system, as prayed by first petitioner Saulos Chilima of UTM Party and second petitioner Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The court declared that then president Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was not duly elected and ordered a fresh election within 150 days.
A seven-judge panel of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on May 8 upheld the ConCourt judgement and Mutharika subsequently lost in the June 23 fresh presidential election to the pair of Chakwera and Chilima who amassed 59 percent of the vote.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :