Recently at a Sherry Party which was a Judiciary function, held in Blantyre, the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda confessed that corruption in Malawi has not spared the Judiciary. Obviously, this confession is worrisome to the people of Malawi because corruption is capable of reducing the integrity, effectiveness and trust that people have of the justice system.
Meanwhile, it is not enough just to say that the judiciary, too, has joined the corruption band wagon. There is urgent need to look at the causes and find solutions. Without going any further, one of the reasons for judicial corruption can be political influence by the self-made untouchables. In fact, it is undeniable that most of the big corruption cases, which include stealing, are politically motivated. It is against this back ground that some political scholars came up with an explanation that when plunder becomes a way of life for some people, in a course of time they create themselves a legal system that authorises plunder. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case in Malawi at the moment. There is so much plunder, but the government can hardly stop it. It seems plunders have, indeed, created their own legal system. Some corruption suspects who claim to be untouchable are usually seen judge shopping so that they can be tried by their favoured judges who are likely to belong to the legal system of the plunders. In the process, judges are compromised and drawn into corruption gangs.
The importance of the judiciary cannot be overemphasised. Needless to say that at the moment Malawi is literally bleeding from corruption. Therefore, the government and the people at large are always seeking for justice at the courts. If the court systems are just as corrupt as everyone else, then people of this country will turn to nowhere. Even more so that chiefs seem to be just as corrupt. If one does not give them anything regularly, such a person should know that he/she will always loose cases being tried by the chief.
The President Peter Mutharika government must be aware that judicial corruption is no laughing matter and it must be dealt with as soon as possible. Failing which there will be lawlessness. In fact, the country is already experiencing this with mob justice which if not checked can lead to civil fights. Obviously, people resort to mob justice when they realise that even dangerous criminals are released from police custody soon after arrest and continue to threaten the communities.
Meanwhile, one cannot be wrong to suggest that it is due to corruption that some of the judgements make people to wonder and conclude that there is selective justice in this country. The selective justice might be based on how much money suspects pay to the presiding judges. The most painful judgement is when on similar cases, such as being found with money from undisclosed sources, some suspects go scot-free while others serve long jail terms. The danger here is that as soon as people realise that one can get away with big offences by bribing the judges, then very soon in Malawi, the courts will be irrelevant.
By now the President should have known that corruption should no longer just be talked about. Whether people are powerful or not should equally face punishment by serving long jail terms. This would give a lesson to everyone.
In other countries this is done and has helped to control corruption. For example, in South Korea, three former presidents are serving more than 20-year jail term each. If not careful, corruption will finish Malawi completely.