Law scholar faults Malawi govt on judiciary impasse

Malawi’s commentator on legal affairs, Dr Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa, has faulted the executive arm of government for acting unfairly on the Judiciary by declaring that Treasury would not implement their requests and proposal to end their indefinite courts strike.

Dr Danwood Chirwa: The judiciary must be respected
Dr Danwood Chirwa: The judiciary must be respected

The Judiciary has asked government to implement a salary adjustment for its staff to correspond with that of the civil service, as per Clause 44 (2) of the Judiciary’s conditions of service, but with agreed percentages specifically for Judiciary.

But Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has shot down the proposal, saying government could not implement that as it would defeat the purpose of harmonisation of salaries in the civil service.

Gondwe said he is putting his “foot down” that Treasury “cannot implement their demands.”

Government authorities say the failure to increase judicial workers’ salaries this year is largely because of financial constraints, following a donor aid freeze against Malawi’s government. The freeze is a result of a government financial scandal in which more than $30 million was looted from government coffers.

Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya told a local radio station it is hard for the government to meet the workers’ demand.

“It is difficult to promise what the treasury will do.  But suffice to say that the prevailing economic circumstances and budgetary constraints will make a little bit difficult for the treasury to bow down to the demands,” “Msowoya said.

But Prof Chirwa said for government to merely say that there is no money to meet the demands of  the institution is not enough.

“The executive must not expect other organs of the state that played no part in those misdeeds [cashgate] easily to forgo their just entitlements. As a demonstration of responsibility, the executive needs, through persuasion and negotiation, to work towards reaching a just and fair compromise with the affected public servants,” Chirwa stated in an articles sent to Nyasa Times.

He  pointed out  that the use of  executive’s  political muscle to demonise or vilify the concerned citizens will only serve to increase the gulf between the parties.

“ With respect to the judiciary, such a tactic is wholly unfair as the judiciary does not wield political power or have the right to defend itself in the public realm,” he noted.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu said the the way the matter has been presented by the Judiciary “ creates the perception that there is a warranted tug of war between the Executive and the Judiciary.”

Tembenu said: “ By deciding to go on strike, as an arm of Government, the Judiciary is effectively abdicating its constitutional responsibilities.”

He stressed that government maintains its position that the Judiciary will not gay their pay hike demand, explain that  what has happened in the Civil Service is a salary restructuring exercise and not a general increment as envisaged in Judiciary’s Terms and Conditions of Service.

The ongoing strike is hampering progress of trials, as court operations remain suspended.

Police are complaining of congestion in jail cells and overpopulation in prisons continue with suspects being held on remand longer.

Human rights campaigners and legal experts say the strike is contributing to human rights violations.

Meanwhile, Public Appointments Committee of Parliament, which approved the conditions of service in 2012 that the Judiciary are demanding, is set to hear from the Department of Human Resource Management and Development this week on what progress has taken place on the implementation.


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7 years ago

a chirwa wa tu penapake zoti anapita ku school zimandikayikitsa. zotiso iwowa dziko la malawi amalikonda ndimakaikaso. you mean bcoz judicialy has demanded pay hike then govt should owner that demand even when it doesnt have anything zoona? judicialy why this nosense when your salaries are higher than your friends in civil service? cant you understand that govt doesnt have money now? komatu zinazi mukupanga poti president ndiwabwino akanakhala wina akanangokutsani nose ndikuyikapo ena. ntchito yake mmagwira iti inu ziphuphu zokhazokha zaziii

7 years ago

aaaaah anthu ozikonda aku juduciary. They already get more money compared to the rest of the civil on the same level. The govt already said kut akufuna kut all civil servants tht are on th same level azilanda zofanana, bax iwo mphuno patsogolo kut azilandila zambili…kuzikonda basi. If th govt bows down to their demands, mumvanso kut ma teachers, hospital workers apanganso strike. Anyanya…asaapatse awa

Moses K
7 years ago

The civil servants demand is unreastic and The govenment cannot meet their demands as it cannot spend the money that it does not have. attempting to do so will create high inflation rate that will have significant impact to poor Malawians as prices of commodities will go up. The increase in salaries should be in line with the current inflation rate. So we call upon our civil servant to remain patriotic to their Motherland as the country struggles to build up its economy.

7 years ago

Rubbish, the judiciary should not hold the rest of the country to ransom. One branch of the public service is not more important than the other. After all, how can the judiciary do its work without the police? It is the police that brings the criminals to court so that they can carry out their duties. If the police ceased to arrest criminals, would the courts have any work to do? Furthermore, a lot of cases get bogged down in the courts due the inefficiencies of the judiciary. I, frankly speaking, do not why the judiciary is treated with kid… Read more »

7 years ago

Dr Chirwa is a law scholar, what can he write against fellow lawyers? These guys protect each other koopsya. There have been so many scandals/ offenses commited by lawyers and requiring serious disciplinary actions but most of them have been protected. Shame! Bola achipatala through medical council ndi ma accountant ndithu.

Fathi Alshab
7 years ago

Human fights or fught being peoetusted by Judiciary right down ti the Police..why? Poligical leadership ya fake….mantha!kudzikonda! mqano! Bodza!
NNga nuwina uku..where is your Vjidf justice & seniod teM yse them Apm koma osati mmene mudacjitira ndi media guys-dont bribe them ndi one or two milli each

7 years ago

Yesterday i visited maula prison where suspects are remanded to await court hearing. Eeeish very congested beyond fullest. Who can hear cries of these poor souls as their hope remains court hearing their cases.

7 years ago






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