Judges at Lilongwe High Court on Monday did not preside over cases in protest against their fuel allowances which have not been paid for the past two months.
There are fears that the ‘strike’ could continue for the rest of the week until Treasury releases the money owed to the judges, stifling the justice delivery system.
Sources within the High Court corroborated with The Nation that the two available judges, Ivy Kamanga and Esmie Chombo, did not preside over cases in the first part of the day.
“The judges did not receive their fuel allowances as they are entitled, perhaps due to reduced funding in all government departments. But today they have not been working,” the source said.
While confirming that judges across the country had not received their fuel allowances, High Court registrar Joseph Chigona played down the issue, saying it was “not as serious as a strike.”
But he confirmed that the Judiciary was not funded for the month of December just like other government departments and institutions.
“The judges were supposed to receive their December and January fuel allowances at once but Treasury disbursed little funding. But Treasury has understood the situation and have funded us for two months catering for all judges and senior officers [of the Judiciary] and we are processing payments,” Chigona said.
In an interview on Monday, Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said discussions are underway with the Judiciary, but they would be paid.
The Judiciary has previously brought delivery of justice to a standstill for three months to demand implementation of new perks.
The last review of the judges’ perks, to include two vehicles, 120 percent increment on fuel allowance and numerous others took place in December last year but implementation is yet to start.