Between 2020 and 2021 the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) has registered 120 industrial disputes across the country.
This number, according to insiders at IRC registries, could double if combined with the number of employees who have dragged private companies to court for various claims during the period.
The insiders admitted the IRC registries are overwhelmed, adding the numbers surpass cases registered in previous years such as 2018 and 2019.
Registrar of the High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal Gladys Gondwe, provided a list of cases registered in IRCs between 2020 and 2021, specifically against government, and mostly for alleged unfair dismissals or unfair termination of contracts.
Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe, alone, has over 25 cases he is sued by ex-employees of different government ministries, departments, agencies and statutory corporations.
The AG said, in an interview, he could not comment on why there are more cases against government.
But he said the contributing factor could be that people realise that they can drag the government to court if they feel aggrieved.
“If I am dismissed and I feel the dismissal is unfair, I would go to court to seek legal redress. People have that right. But to ask why more cases, obviously that requires a little more information to answer,” Silungwe said.
The list of people that have dragged government to court includes former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dalitso Kabambe and his deputy Henry Mathanga.
Other prominent personalities are former Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) chief executive officer (CEO) Eunice Napolo and former National Economic Empowerment Fund (Neef) CEO Mervis Mangulenje.
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi is the parastatal facing more lawsuits at IRC; there are 28 cases, largely for unfair dismissals.
Blantyre City Council faces six cases; Blantyre Water Board, Malawi National Examinations Board and Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation have four each.
An officer in one of the registries, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said government normally loses cases because sometimes they go unchallenged, or where defended, the dismissals or termination of contracts are mostly proved to be unfair.