Mutharika’s govt blasted over judicial strike

The executive arm of the Malawi government which comprises the President and its cabinet ministers is accused of being arrogant and demeaning functions of other arms of government for its failure to respect approval of parliament on the working conditions for the judiciary workers.

The support staff of  the judiciary are currently staging an indefinite sit-in strike which started on January 9 in a bid to push the executive arm of the government to start implementing the working
conditions which parliament approved in 2006. Among the conditions are  salary and allowance increase.

Enough is enough

Speaking during the Contemporary Issuesprogram on Radio Islam, spokesperson for the judiciary support staff Austin Kamanga said he does not see any sense in government holding the discussion on the issue saying this is an indication that the government does not respect the decision of parliament.

Strike action for judicial workers

“We feel there is no need for discussions on the issue because the matter passed through all the concerned parties before it was approved by parliament,” he said, adding “we think that we are being too diplomatic for allowing government to be holding discussions with our senor bosses.”

Kamanga further said: “The discussions are not needed at this stage because six years was
enough for the government to make its decision on the matter. What we are interested in right now is the implementation of what parliament approved in 2006.”

He was reacting to remarks by government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati who said government is holding discussions on the matter which she said will take time before they reach a consensus.

Indefinate strike

Kamanga said the judiciary workers will not resume work unless government bows down to their demand. He denied recent reports that the strike was orchestrated by lawyer Ralph Kasambara and an opposition official Humphrey Mvula.

“We received those reports with concern. The fact is that our issue is between the employees and employer. There is no politics involved.  No person or organization has a hand in the strike we are staging,” he said.

Tricky justice

In the program, hosted by Rashid Amadu Mapila, Radio Islam  also featured a human rights activist David Odali, who is the Executive Director of a local NGO, Umunthu Foundation and also a practicing lawyer Yusufu Nthenda.

Odali said although the strike infringes on the rights of those who are seeking justice from the courts it is difficult to blame the judicial workers for staging the strike.

“This is a tricky issue because although some people’s rights are indeed being violated for being denied justice, we should also consider that the stand which the judicial workers have taken is the
only option left after exhausting all the channels that would lead to the amicable solution to the issue at hand”, said Odali.

Odali said what is needed is for the government to start implementing the conditions of service that parliament had approved.

On his part, Nthenda said although some rights are violated it would be naïve and illogical to think that the judicial workers would be sued [once they resume work] for the human rights violations that stems from their strike.

“There is no way they can be sued because they are the aggrieved party. If anything it is the other side (the executive arm of government) which can be sued because they are the ones who are
perpetrating the denial of justice by delaying implementing what parliament approved”, he said.

Almost all contributors to the program who expressed their views through phone calls and SMSs accused the Bingu wa Mutharika administration of being arrogant and inconsiderate on the matter and supported the judicial workers for holding the strike.

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