I was particularly interested to know the goings-on when I heard that Supreme Court judge Anastasia Msosa had been appointed acting Chief Justice following the early retirement of Justice Lovemore Munlo. Not that I was not expecting Justice Msosa to ascend to such a high position, no. She has done so before and she is among the respected judges in this country.
But when I heard that her appointment was because President Joyce Banda had similarly appointed other deserving women to high government positions, I went to my copy of the Constitution to read up on what happens or what should happen when the office of the Chief Justice falls vacant.
In the case of having an Acting Chief Justice, the Constitution states: “If the office of Chief Justice is vacant, or if the Chief Justice is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his or her office, then, until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding that office has resumed those functions, as the case may be, those functions shall be performed by the most senior judge then sitting on the Supreme Court of Appeal or High Court.”
I thought the interpretation of this section of the Constitution needed no legal consultation. But what was not clear to me was whether Mrs Msosa was “the most senior judge then sitting on the Supreme Court of Appeal or High Court.” I needed this information to verify that the President had indeed been gender-leaning in choosing her (Mrs Msosa) as acting Chief Justice. That is where I asked my lawyer friends and they confirmed that the President had acted within the law.
So the President did not choose Mrs Msosa because she (President) has often selected deserving women to high position? My lawyer friend said no. The President has no choice. Mrs Msosa’s ascendancy was what was supposed to happen. So, how do we interpret the statement that the desire to promote women to high positions is what made Mrs Msosa acting Chief Justice?
My lawyer friends looked at me and suggested that if I needed legal advice, we better meet at the office. I knew a bill was coming and so I thought, I did not need such advice anymore. Having sorted out the Msosa issue, I listened to some friends of mine suggesting that the President had said that those people who were against her one cow per family approach were afiti (witches).
I argued the President would never say that. My friends contended they had heard the President saying such kinds of judgments. I thought still this would not be correct. Well, my friends argued that it is not once or twice that the President had suggested that afiti were against her policies and practices. I told my friends that it was criminal to accuse any person of witchcraft and so my President would never commit such a crime. After all, George Thindwa says ufiti kulibe (there is no witchcraft).