Government has slashed the recurrent budget for the Judiciary from about K1.432 billion (about $8.6 million) to around K1.405 billion (about $8.4 million) in the Mid-Year Budget Review amid the ongoing strike for court staff who are demanding implementation of their revised perks.
Government has also chopped the budget for Parliament by K95 million (about $568 862) from around K3.490 billion (about $20.9 million) to K3.395 billionÃ‚Â (about $20.3 million).
MCP on Wednesday asked for more funding to the two institutions as the cuts threaten the functioning of arms of government which operate as checks on the powers of the Executive.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If government was going to pay arrears for the Judiciary staff, assuming the strike has been resolved in that way, Treasury was going to put that money in the Judiciary vote so that on their own, they can initiate generation of those resources.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What it means is that government is not ready to resolve the crisis because they would have asked for additional resources.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No person in the Executive can do that [increase the Judiciary budget] on their own without asking for the approval of Parliament, that would be unconstitutional,Ã¢â‚¬Â said MCP spokesperson on finance Joseph Njobvuyalema in an interview.
Government owes the striking Judiciary staff about K1.2 billion (about $7.19 million) in arrears from their 2006 revised perks.
The striking staffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spokesperson Austin Kamanga on Tuesday said they will not go back to work until their new perks are implemented and an arrangement is made to pay their salary arrears.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s difficult for me to comment on the reduction of the budget because thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s too technical for me, but what we want is the implementation of our new salaries,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Kamanga.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) president John Gift Mwakhwawa on Tuesday said he could not comment on the Judiciary budget cut, saying: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am incompetent on that subject because I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how the Judiciary works out its budgets.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But Nkhotakota South MP Edwin Banda, who is also a lawyer, said the Judiciary salaries are a charge on the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s consolidated fund.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When government says we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have money, that is unconstitutional because Judiciary salaries are a charge on the consolidated fund. When you charge your property with the bank, the legal effect is that that property no longer becomes your own. It becomes the property of the bank,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.