Magistrates and Judicial officials in Malawi have petitioned President Arthur Peter Mutharika over what they call poor remuneration and benefits and that they have given him a seven-day ultimatum to meet their demands.
In the petition, dated April 23, 2015 and entitled “Notice to Strike by Magistrates for Non Compliance and Implementation of Salaries Approved by National Assembly”, the Magistrates say they have taken the action “pursuant to Section 46 (3) of the Labour Relations Act, as read with Section 31 of the Republican Constitution”, which gives the right to every person “including Magistrates” to withdraw labour.
“Your Excellency, as a fair labour practice, we give seven (7) days’ notice effective the date undersigned to this petition in writing that should the dispute remain unresolved by the 3rd of May, 2015, we reserve the right to withdraw our labour,” reads the petition, which Nyasa Times has seen.
According to the petition, in 2014, the National Assembly had approved recommendations to improve Magistrates and judicial officials’ remuneration and benefits. There are no specific details in the petition about the proposed improvements in remuneration and benefits.
Apparently, when government had been dilly-dallying to implement the approved remuneration and benefits, the matter ended up in court.
“Your Excellency, you may wish to know that nobody is above the law, and court orders have to be complied with unless set aside on appeal. The Executive Branch of Government let alone the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development or Attorney General did not appeal against the ruling of the court when it made its determination on the same,” the petition reads, adding that what remains now is the implementation of the approved salaries and “compliance of the court order by the Minister and Economic Development”.
The Magistrates claim in the petition that they have attempted to engage the Executive Branch on the matter without any success as the Executive “continued to change goal posts without reaching any compromise”.
They also claim that following the Executive’s conduct, Magistrates in Malawi “who handle 95 percent of cases in our courts”, continue to suffer pecuniary embarrassment “in these harsh economic times”.
The Magistrates claim that the Minister of Finance may be “out of touch” with the problems confronting Magistrates in the subordinate courts across the country “hence his stand on our salary demands”.
“We are, therefore. Afraid that this matter has remained unresolved for a long time and out patience has been tested to the limit and is wearing thin. We are now approaching another Financial Year (2014/2016)…parliamentary proceedings are due to start on May 5, 2015.
“It is with this in mind that we seek Your Excellency’s indulgence as a person with vast legal knowledge, experience and as a person with great respect for the Rule of Law. It is with this belief hope that we sincerely believe that this matter will be resolved sooner than later,” concludes the petition.
The petition is signed by the Chairperson of the National Magistrates Association, Vice Chairperson, the Secretary, Publicity Secretary and Executive Members. It is copied to Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Finance Minister, Chief Secretary to Government, Attorney General, Registrar, High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal and the President, Malawi Law Society, among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :