Parliament’s Public Appointments and Declaration of Assets Committee started meeting in Lilongwe on Tuesday to, among other things, review the proposed new perks for the Judiciary.
According to the proposed Conditions of Service for Judicial Officers whose effective date—if approved by the committee—would be backdated to July 2012, the Chief Justice shall be entitled to three vehicles for official and private use “provided that one of the three vehicles shall be a Mercedes Benz”.
For the Justices of Appeal, judges of the High Court and the registrar, the proposal is that they be given two vehicles, one of which should also be a Mercedes Benz.
“We started meeting today for the whole week to review requests from several constitutional bodies which have been affected by the recent devaluation and floatation of the kwacha… We will among them consider the request from the Judiciary,” said committee chairperson Nick Masebo in an interview on Tuesday.
The proposed conditions of service for the judges were handed over to the committee last month.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) dominates and chairs the committee and it is highly likely that the judges’ proposals will be approved.
“We are likely to approve the judges’ perks because that’s the only sure way to ensure and secure the independence of the Judiciary,” said Nicholas Dausi, a member of the committee.
The judges also want their fuel entitlement to jump by an average of 120 percent, settlement allowance to increase by 1 500 percent and furniture allowances to surge by 60 percent.
The latest demands come at a time the national budget is besieged by a 61 percent pay hike for civil servants that will cost taxpayers roughly K5.7 billion (about $14.2m).
It also coincides with a perks demand by another branch of government—Parliament—where members of Parliament (MPs) are pushing government to implement fuel allowances of 500 litres a month each as agreed in 2008 and which they want paid in arrears dating back to 2009.
The backdated payment could see each MP carting home K10 million, a payout that could cost the taxpayer about K2 billion.