Malawi judiciary demands probe of Chief Justice Munlo

After a protracted battle over conditions of service, which the government lost, Malawi’s Judiciary staff have made fresh demands and this time not to government but to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) asking for its head, the Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo to be  thoroughly  investigated over a host of issues.

In a four paged letter to the graft-busting body obtained by Nyasa Times, the staff noted that former president late Bingu wa Mutharika had appointed Justice Munlo sidelining competent judicial officers who had served the judiciary time immemorial.

“Having retired in 1994, he was controversially appointed as [Chief Judge] in 2007 some 13 years down the line. It is however amazing that records at the High Court of Malawi show that Justice Munlo’s services were connected as if he had not retired.

Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo : Faces pressure to be probed

“The financial implication therefore is that if the CJ retires today, he will be paid tax payers money as if he had started working in the 1980s,” reads part of the letter.

But Munlo could not comment when Nyasa Times contacted him demanding to see a copy of the letter first.

Grounds for probe

The workers justify their main reason for calling for the probe saying the judiciary as one of the three branches of government as enshrined in Section 9 of the Constitution, has to be led by men and women of high integrity.

“We would like a probe on how the CJ had his services connected yet he had retired. Which Judicial regulations were applied and which institution within the judicial set up approved this and which constitutional provision was invoked to have all this done,” the workers demand.

They also want know why the CJ was receiving fuel allowance of 2,500 litres per month arguing that an allocation of such magnitude is not stipulated in his conditions of service which are determined by the National Assembly from time to time.

“The worry here is that the CJ might have secretly again connived with someone at OPC (Office of President and Cabinet) which is not allowed and this might also have compromised his position.

“Is the Judiciary of Malawi really ready to be led by someone who can secretly go behind the back of his fellow judicial officers and negotiate something just for himself?” the staff queried.

Abuse of office

On the construction of a wall fence at the Blantyre High Court, the staff said they got surprised to see Munlo time and again personally supervising the project.

“We have very credible information that the CJ who is a contractor might have used his company to construct this fence which is conflict of interest and abuse of office. Why should the clerk of parliament be facing prosecution in the courts of Malawi yet the head of the judiciary who did a similar thing is free?” they further queried.

‘Cover up on coup’

Munlo stands accused by President Joyce Banda to have played a role in a failed coup plot when an inner circle of the former ruling DPP tried to install the late president Mutharika’s brother, Peter, as new president instead of the then Vice President Joyce Banda.

President Banda told UK paper details of the plot and how Munlo was part of it.

The letter says the Chief Justice has made recent appointments  including that of the Deputy Registrar of the High Court , Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa who was Chief Magistrate Blantyre and pending appointment of the Deputy Chief Courts Administrator, as a  deliberate move so that he s surrounded by his tribesmen –Lomwe – to back him.

“You can remember from the search warrant of Ralph Kasambara. He has also speedily moved Ligowe from Lilongwe since Ligowe knows a lot about the role the CJ played during the transition period after the death of Bingu,” claimed the letter by the whistle –blower.

“It was Ligowe who had been told to hunt for Judges to have a midnight session and We have information that Justice Chombo, Mzikamanda and Chatha Kamanga were all phoned to prepare for a case but they never saw that case coming up,” they said.

Munlo has refused to talk to the media on the coup allegations but pointed out that as a judge, he knew there was a proper mechanism or forum under the constitution where such allegations could be channelled to.

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