Governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) continues to face condemnation from within and outside Malawi for attacking the Judiciary and claiming that the five judges that annulled the May 21 2019 presidential election received bribes.
The party claimed on Monday, when it petitioned the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Judiciary through Blantyre City Council (BCC), that they were ready to testify against the five judges it claimed had received bribes to rule in favour of the petitioners.
But three international bodies—the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association, the Commonwealth Legal Education and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association—said they were extremely concerned with the attacks on the Judiciary by the DPP.
The bodies, in a statement issued Thursday, said the accusers promoted the unsubstantiated allegations of bribery, which were misleading the public.
“The courts are the guardians of justice, the cornerstone of a democratic system based on the rule of law. Democracy will be gravely undermined if judgements of the courts are not respected and if there are uncorroborated and unfounded accusations against the Judiciary.
“Any allegation of corruption must be investigated thoroughly by the correct authorities and accurate information must be reported to members of the public,” reads the statement.
The Commonwealth bodies cautioned that democratic governance requires the public and all parties to await the outcome of the legal and constitutional processes, which they said were currently underway, urging those concerned to refrain from trying to unduly influence the outcome of court deliberations.
They said the conduct by DPP supporters was a ploy to erode the authority, independence and integrity of the Judiciary in Malawi.
“We would urge all parties in Malawi to respect the authority of the Judiciary and ensure that due process is followed in line with the Malawi Constitution and international obligations,” the bodies urged.
In a joint statement also issued on Thursday by Magistrates and Judges Association of Malawi (Majam) and Association for Magistrates (AMA), the two local associations condemned the attacks on the Judiciary without justified cause, specifically on the five judges.
In the statement, signed by Majam president Howard Pemba and AMA president Patrick Mwamale, they said if there was any criminal suspicion, there is a due process of the law that must be followed.
“Being bodies whose membership comprise these judges, among others, we would like to condemn in the strongest term the demonstrations and accompanying attacks on the judges by the DPP and its leadership.
“The conduct of the DPP in this regard does not only undermine the rule of law but also the integrity and independence of the Judiciary. This we say bearing in mind that the matter for which the demonstrations are being conducted is now in the Supreme Court of Appeal,” reads the statement.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) earlier on Thursday also faulted the DPP in the aftermath of the February 3 Constitutional Court judgement that nullified the 2019 presidential election.
In a letter signed by its honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde, MLS asked the DPP to follow due legal processes for reporting complaints of alleged criminal conduct if the allegations against the judges have any underlying merit.
The lawyers’ body had called upon the DPP to publicly withdraw all corruption allegations made against the judges, and to desist from any further conduct of such kind.
But DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi is on record to have said he needed more time before he comments on the issue. He, however, earlier own said it was within their constitutional right to demonstrate and express themselves.