Malawi Law Society (MLS) says it has set up a special committee to probe allegations that the South African lawyers were paid K300 million, half the amount of the agreed law fees before they worked for it.
The South African lawyers —Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza and Elizabeth Makhabani Baloyi-Mere of Mboweni Maluleke Inc Attorneys—were hired by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in the presidential election appeals case.
MLS honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde said the special committee would advise the body on the allegations.
The government, through the Attorney General’s office is said to have made the payment before the lawyers started working.
Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on Monday objected to the decision by the South African lawyers to represent MEC from South Africa through video link.
Nyirenda argued that the lawyers would not have been physically present in court, as they were unable to travel to Malawi because of coronavirus travel bans.
Kaukonde said MLS will also seek court direction on allegations that the Public Finance Management Act was flouted when the government hired the foreign lawyers..
“The procuring entity appears not to have complied with the Public Procurement Act when engaging the foreign counsel,” she said.
The lawyers charged the government USD$788,500 which is ZAR14,800,000 (Fourteen Million Eight Hundred Thousand Rands) or MK600 000.
But the Malawi Law Society blasted the fees as “exorbitant” and questioned the rationale for choosing foreign over local lawyers.
The hiring of the South African lawyers — who were set to charge 788,000 rand (around $43,000) for their services — had caused uproar among Malawian citizens and opposition parties.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :