Judge Kenyatta goes to town on Malawi archaic laws: Questions Mutharika’s declaration of disaster

A High Court judge   Kenyatta Nyirenda  who recently came under fire from government when he ordered the Department of Immigration not to deport four Chinese nationals upon their arrival in the country amidst  the highly contagious Covid-19 has made a stinging ruling  that questions  archaic laws on the declaration of State of Disaster.

Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda: The law is the law

President Peter Mutharika declared a state of disaster on March 23 to combat the  coronavirus. There is no lockdown but schools are closed and the government says it is urging people to work from home and follow hand-washing and social-distancing guidelines.

All social gatherings of more than 100 people, such as funerals, church services and political rallies, have been banned.

However, in his determination on an inter parties hearing of  the application of  four Chinese nationals Lin Xiaoxiao, Liu Zhigin, Wang Xia and Tian Hongze against their deportation to China,  Justice Nyirenda said the rule of law has to reign even during a disaster.

“Let us stop wasting our energies and time  by being preoccupied with propagating false stories and seeking to score cheap political goals. No politician worthy his or her name would even date to hoodwink his or her  own people.

“Honestly, the very thought of declaring a state of disaster without even bothering to tell Malawians in clear terms the law under which the declaration is made is taking Malawians for granted,” said Justice Nyirenda in his ruling.

He stated that the framers of the country’s Constitution knew pretty well that Malawi would at some point  in time, face disasters.

“They, accordingly, put in place constitutional provisions for handling such disasters.

“Let us give constitutionalism a chance to work in Malawi. Do not try to be clever and half,” said Nyirenda.

Justice Nyirenda said he is “duty bound” to give the judicial advice having taken judicial oath and oath of allegiance.

He pointed out that  as matters now stand, unless the government moves with speed to take necessary legislative measures, the possibility of exposure by the  State to pay colossal sum of money in compensation for violating human rights as a result of imposing measures anchored in law is very high.

Justice Nyirenda further pointed out that the legislative regime governing Malawi’s response to disasters, regardless so the nature and the extent of the disasters, is not only archaic and obsolete but “it is also in total shambles.”

He said: “ Almost all, if not all, applicable laws are completely outdated. Needless to say, the coronavirus epidemic has caught the authorities with their pants down – witness panic stations everywhere.

“How the authorities expect to effectively combat the epidemic in 2020 with laws enacted in 1948 (Public Health Act), 1964 (Immigration Act) and 1991 (Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act) boggles my mind.”

Justice Nyirenda said this is not the time to start questioning patriotism of fellow Malawians but to “ collectively pull up our socks so that we can fully apply our minds and energy to the reparation of the necessary legislation.”

He also pointed out that that the arrest and detention of the Chinese nationals was a blessing in disguise because it led to his ruling which provided an analysis of the law governing declaration of state of emergency (the term used in section 45 of the Constitution) and declaration of state of disaster (the term used in the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act).

According to Nyirenda, this will go a long way towards the development of jurisprudence on the subject matter of declaration of state of disaster or declaration of state of emergency.

Justice Nyirenda granted the Chinese nationals’ application for the continuation of the interlocutory injunction.

The four were among 14 Chinese nationals who arrived in the country recently, but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services managed to send back to China 10.

China is  the first nation to register coronavirus cases.

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3 years ago

The judiciary do not act out of emotions but available laws. If Malawi has no laws, instead of blaming the judge, Malawians should rush to provide necessary legislation which would be bullet proof. We are not in a state of emergency where laws are suspended. Laws are only suspended where a state of emergency is declared as oposed to a state of disaster which President Muthalika declared. Let us wake up im the face if cirina virus and enact legislation that would be relevant to the situation at hand rather than being emotional. Was it not the same Kenyatta Nyirenda… Read more »

3 years ago

I salute you Judge Kenyattta Nyirenda for seriously attempting to make Malawians aware of the need to test our laws every now and then. An untested law is as good as dead because when we need it we may find it seriously wanting! Clueless Mutharika (and his uninformed cadets) think we are so stupid we will accept anything that comes out his mouth

3 years ago

A Tumbuka judge, a Tumbuka court, a Tumbuka ruling, nepotism and corruption.That is all.

3 years ago

The ruling is an embarrassment to Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda and the judiciary.

3 years ago

Justice Kenyatta has blood in his hands. His ruling made people leave quarantine meaning immigration could not hold people. We can all now see how our judiciary is responsible for letting corona-virus into Malawi.

3 years ago

Judge Kenyatta is responsible for the spread of corona-virus in Malawi. His ruling, which released Chinese from quarantine, undermined immigration and government to put people entering Malawi into isolation.

yaya mfiti
3 years ago

But the most idiotic creature is this idiot called Kenyatta Nyirenda ,covid

Joseph Banda
Joseph Banda
3 years ago

Did Kenyatta Nyirenda accept you to publish this archaic and rubbish opinion of his on this esteemed forum. The archaic laws he is depending on to hide his insensitive decision on the 3 Chinese is laughable and makes shame to the Judiciary. He must have met and seen these Acts in course of his work as a Judge. Did he recommend for its amendment? Are these not the same laws that Uladi Musa & Co are being charged without being seen as archaic laws.

Come on Man time has arrived to resign. Kodi anthu inu munakhala bwanji?

3 years ago

with each passing day and with the first death from Corona in Malawi, this judgement is looking senseless and self-serving. the judge is now popular, he is in the news headlines and I hope he is now more proud of himself as a superstar. for you my malawian brothers and sisters, i see in other forums you are very angry that those who got Corona exposed health workers and their domestic workers. some of you are questioning the wisdom of government for allowing the individuals who have tested positive back into the country after their visits to UK and other… Read more »

Mr Ndikhetsa Mwazi Chakwera

What a stupid judge we have in this tumbuka Kenyatta Nyirenda.

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