Judges and Magistrates Association of Malawi has petitioned the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), querying the promotion of Judge Maxon Mbendera to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal bench.
In the petition, the association argues Mbendera is less experienced than other judges that have served in the Judiciary for a longer period and that the JSC that recommended the appointments did not form a quorum, according to an online report published on Nyasatimes this week.
The judicial officers have given the JSC a 14-day ultimatum to act or they would take an unspecified action if their concerns are not addressed.
The late president Bingu wa Mutharika appointed Mbendera as judge of the High Court’s Commercial Division in 2010 before engaging him as Attorney General few months later.
Mbendera, currently chairperson of Electoral Commission (EC), is among three High Court judges President Joyce Banda recently appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal. The others are Anaclet Chipeta and Lovemore Chikopa.
High Court Judge John Katsala, current chairperson of the association, on Thursday confirmed signing the petition to the JSC over the matter, but declined to grant an interview, arguing the matter was under consideration by the JSC.
Katsala said the matter was serious; hence, he could not go about discussing it in the media before a response from the commission is received.
He explained the petition Nyasatimes quoted was a draft some people close to the matter leaked, saying the final one bears a different date altogether.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) president John-Gift Mwakhwawa said the lawyers’ body has a position on the matter, but would only issue a statement in due course.
Secretary of the JSC Dickson Chunga said he had not seen the petition yet, but said he was aware chairperson of the commission, who is Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, has been addressed on the matter.
Said Chunga: “I have not seen the document, but once I see it, we will let you know and would respond accordingly.”
Mbendera on several attempts could not be reached on Thursday on his mobile phone when The Nation wanted to seek his reaction to the queries.