Commonwealth member States have elected Justice Charles Mkandawire as president of Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) for the next three years.
The Lilongwe-based judge was unanimously elected last week during the CMJA general assembly in Australia’s capital Brisbane.
Mkandawire takes over from Australia’s Chief Judge John Lowndes. He is the second Malawian to be elected CMJA president after retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, who was elected in Scotland in 2000 and served up to 2003.
During his tenure, Justice Mkandawire will lead a council of 30 members elected from CMJA’s six regions, which include East, Central and Southern Africa, West Africa, Caribbean, Atlantic and Mediterranean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Out of the 54 Commonwealth member States, 50 attended the general assembly and unanimously elected Mkandawire to head the 48-year-old grouping whose patron is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom where CMJA offices are located.
The Judiciary in Malawi has since described Mkandawire’s election as another milestone for the country, and Africa as a region.
“This puts Malawi in the limelight at the international level. The Malawi Judiciary ill support the president during his tenure to successfully execute his duties,” said Agnes Patemba, registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Supreme Court of Appeal.
Reacting to his election in an interview on Friday, Mkandawire said he was humbled and thanked God for the achievement in his 32 years of uninterrupted judicial career.
He said his election was a big honour to Malawi Judiciary as it demonstrated that the global Commonwealth village recognises the competencies and capabilities of Malawian judicial officers.
He said he is going to focus on five key areas, which include strengthening and defending judicial independence, improving the status of magistrates in the Commonwealth and judicial corruption and accountability.
Other focus points include the establishments of virtual courts and digital filing and improving the relationship among the three branches of government.
“The Malawi judiciary will also benefit through interfacing, networking and sharing best practices with comparative jurisdictions. My appointment also acts as motivation for my fellow judicial officers to strive for excellence to occupy such esteemed positions on the international arena,” said Mkandawire.