Members of the legal profession in Malawi have said they will fight to combat impunity threatening the independence of the Judiciary and condemned the Executive arm of government’s attempt to send Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justice Edward Twea on forced leave pending retirement.
Former Malawi Law Society president, John Gift Mwakhwawa said the lawyers condemn the impunity of the President, the executive and other members supporting his efforts to obstruct the implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal delivered on February 3 and May 8 2020 respectively and said they should adhere to the path outlined in Malawi’s constitution.
The constitutional court ordered a new presidential poll after annulling the results of a vote that re-elected President Peter Mutharika last May, citing widespread irregularities including the use of correction fluid on ballot papers.
“The two courts decided that this country should have fresh elections that respect and comply with the law. In this vein, we strongly denounce public statements calculated to discredit the judiciary, attempts to use Parliament to reverse the decisions of the court, efforts unlawfully to remove judges from office and any other threats against judicial independence in the country,” said Makhwawa on Wednesday in Blantyre reading a statement from lawyers after their peaceful protests.
Makhwawa said the lawyers pledge to fight for the preservation of the independence of the judiciary.
“The Executive must accept and respect the fact that the constitution vest the responsibility and mandate to interpret and apply the law only in the judiciary. In this respect, we will take all lawful actions in response to any statements and actions that seek to weaken the judiciary or pressure it to decide cases to favour personal whims rather than the objectives of the law,” he said.
Makhwawa continued: “We will combat agents of impunity and mediocrity who abuse, ignore or twist the law. Our country needs to have trust in the judiciary that administers justice according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. We will not allow anybody to weaken our judiciary or make it work in a manner that make it a tool for those with influence.”
Chief Justice Nyirenda claimed bribes had been offered to the judges in the elections case and the country’s anti-graft body vowed to probe the allegations but the matter has stalled.
Malawi prepares to hold its fresh presidential election.