The Judiciary has expressed optimism that the new Tobacco Industry Act will help regulate the sector, which is the country’s main forex earner, through the stiff penalties for law breakers stipulated in the new law.
Judiciary Committee on Training chairperson Justice Redson Kapindu made the remarks at the weekend in Mzuzu where the Tobacco Commission oriented judges and magistrates on the new Act.
He said while the new act still has some grey areas, it generally stipulates provisions that will help to keep the industry and its players in check.
Said the judge: “It is generally a good Act. It replaces old pieces of legislation that were weak in terms of enforcement mechanisms, maximum punishment for what are otherwise serious offences. Those have been addressed under the new law.
“So, it is a stronger legal framework than what we had before. But like any other law, we will hardly have a perfect statute and this one is no exception. It has some areas that need to be addressed.”
On his part, Tobacco Commission acting director of technical services Herrings Nasoni said the Judiciary plays an important role in justice delivery; hence, the need to sensitise the members to the provisions of the Act.
“We didn’t want to take it for granted that because they are learned, then they are familiar with the Act. We took the platform as a feedback mechanism on how the judges may view the Act itself in terms of its contents, legal language and others. It is a mechanism that the commission will also take into consideration in terms of how effectively we can enforce implementation of the Act,” he said.
The Act provides for the regulation, promotion and development of the tobacco industry in Malawi. It also provides for the establishment of the Tobacco Commission and provides for matters incidental thereto.
Section 36 (7) of the Act states that any person who is not registered as a grower and who, by himself or through an agent, grows tobacco for sale, commits an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine of K2 million and to imprisonment for one year.