In a three-hour meeting between Malawi Law Society (MLS) leadership and Judiciary top brass on April 28 2021, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda committed to shaking up judges to ensure speedy hearing of cases and passing out of judgements.
Before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) headed by the Chief Justice allows MLS to directly engage with or impeach judges whose pace in handling cases is deemed questionable, Nyirenda, according to insiders, offered during the meeting to take it up with the judges to improve the situation.
Only when his attempts fail to make the Judiciary tick, the Chief Justice assured MLS he would not stand in its way to allow the lawyers’ body directly engage the judges or have them face impeachment, one of our inside sources said.
He said the lawyers’ body also asked the Chief Justice to do what he can, within his powers, to deal with reports of alleged corruption within the judicial system, fearing that such allegations may make Malawians lose confidence in the Judiciary.
The parties, after the tense but fruitful meeting, according to our sources, agreed to issue a joint public statement on the matter and also to create an independent task force to look at the issues holistically, and deal away with delays of cases.
While confirming the meeting the Judiciary and MLS, registrar of the High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, Gladys Gondwe, said in a response to a questionnaire on Thursday, that the Judiciary and MLS were working together to fine-tune the minutes and carry out some immediate action points.
“Once that is completed, the same will be publicised, not too long from today,” Gondwe said.
On the other hand, MLS president Patrick Mpaka said in an interview that the society submitted to the registrar draft minutes of the meeting and a draft public statement, adding that an agreement was entered into to make their resolutions public.
He said the Judiciary was reviewing the draft minutes.
MLS on April 7 2021 wrote JSC, the Registrar and Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe, seeking an audience with them to discuss resolutions the Law Society passed at its annual general meeting held from March 23-26 2021.
MLS suggested that should their engagement with the judges concerned not yield the desired result, JSC should allow the lawyers’ body to go for a final kill never tried before—commencement of impeachment proceedings of any judicial officer deemed non-compliant with competence requirements under the Constitution and the Judicial terms and conditions of service.
MLS’s tough decision has coincided with a debate in which some legal minds are questioning why cases in the country’s Judiciary delay for years when judgement of a murder case against a United States white police officer Derek Chauvin was passed within 16 days.
The lawyer’s body states that the resolutions that were earmarked for discussion raised matters concerning the administration of justice that has been subject of administrative deliberations between respective institutions and previous leadership of MLS.
MLS also wants a constitutional review of Section 67 of the Labour Relations Act in light of Section 41 of the Constitution to cause removal of the requirement for panelists in the quorum of the Industrial Relations Court and cause the taking of all necessary consequential steps to enhance the pace of justice delivery at the IRC.
The Law Society further intends to devise mechanisms by which the workload of individual judges of the High Court and justices of the Supreme Court of Appeal as well as the turnover of files before each judicial officer is, on regular intervals, shared between the Registrar of the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and MLS.