Lawyers working for the Legal Aid Department in the Ministry of Justice in Blantyre have been turning back clients since Monday because they are on an indefinite go-slow over allowances and other grievances.
A go-slow, sometimes referred to as a slowdown, is an industrial action in which employees perform their duties, but seek to reduce productivity or efficiency in their performance of these duties.
Sources at the department said the lawyers are being unfairly treated by their superior, chief legal aid advocate Arthur Nanthuru, on allowances and delayed salaries for some of them.
The department has seven lawyers in Blantyre and provides legal services in civil and criminal matters to people who cannot afford the cost of using private lawyers.
Nanthuru refused to comment on the allegations when contacted on Thursday and Friday.
But sources alleged that there is mismanagement of funds at the department and lawyers are sometimes forced to jump into minibuses to handle cases in court.
“Actually, two lawyers have not been paid their monthly salaries when they have been on the payroll for the past year or so. We have resolved to go on a go-slow and if anything we are referring clients to Mr. Nanthuru. Clients are being sent back,” said the source.
Ironically, the department treated the lawyers to a three-day induction course at Ku Chawe Inn at Zomba Plateau from Wednesday to Saturday.
“We have been working for two years now and we wonder how useful the induction course is. And suddenly there is money for us to go to Ku Chawe Inn. From where is this money coming?” wondered the source.
“But our main concern is clients. We are sending them back,” added the source, who disclosed that the Blantyre office covers the entire Southern Region.