Malawi Law Society (MLS) has reprimanded President Peter Mutharika over his continued attacks of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal for upholding the nullification of the May 21 2019 presidential election.
But the President, through his spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani, says there is no arm of government which is sacred and immune from scrutiny.
In a statement issued on Monday co-signed by its president Burton Mhango and honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde, the Law Society says judges of both the High Court and Supreme Court duly discharged their constitutional responsibility on the matters before them.
MLS has also asked Mutharika—a professor of international law—and any political figures to refrain from any further direct or indirect attacks on the Judiciary.
Reads the statement: “The Law Society now and hereby expresses concern with and condemns in the strongest terms the manner and forum chosen by the State President to express disquiet against the Judiciary given that the Judiciary itself has no access to the political podium and political facilities to respond to the allegations thereby publicly expressed by the State President.
“Calls upon Parliament which includes the President and National Assembly to carefully read the full final judgment of the Supreme Court, to understand it in accordance with the principles for interpreting judgements and to implement it within the spirit of the constitutional order to ensure mutual respect and tolerance, collective security, morality and common interest of the people of Malawi as a whole.”
The Law Society has also asked the President to lead by example in preserving and upholding the rule of law and promoting the respect, independence and integrity of the Judiciary as a separate constitutional arm of government with a constitutional responsibility.
In an earlier interview (published in full in Political Index in this edition), private practice lawyer John-Gift Mwakhwawa reminded the President that the powers he has are bestowed on him by law, and that he is supposed to lead compliance of observance of the law and respect for the Judiciary.
He said: “For him to demean the Judiciary, in their interpretation of the law and adjudication of the elections matter, he is actually inviting the citizens to demean his very office because his office is also founded by law.”
High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba said in a separate interview the judges speak through judgements; hence, no fresh comment.
Speaking during the Talk to the President Programme on State-run Malawi Broadcasting Station last Friday and during whistle-stop rallies in Thyolo on Monday, the President maintained that the judgements of the five judges of the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court and the seven appeal judges who upheld the same were a travesty of justice and ridiculous.
He said: “The court did not follow the evidence and the law, and that to me it was a judicial coup de tat. That’s what it was that the court simply decided that they want to get rid of the government. It’s so obvious, it’s very clear.”
Addressing the media in Mzuzu on Tuesday, Church and Society Program of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia executive director Moses Mkandawire also expressed concern over Mutharika’s continued sentiments against the Judiciary.
But Kalilani said on Tuesday that just like judges express their opinions through judgements, the President, as a politician, uses public engagements to express his views.
He said: “Let’s not confuse a fair opinion from an attack. The President did not attack the Judiciary, he merely expressed his opinion on their performance. And he is perfectly entitled to that.”
Mutharika, who was declared winner of the disputed election, faces an uphill task to win the fresh poll after major opposition parties formed an electoral alliance. The President has also paired with United Democratic Front (UDF) in the fresh election.