The office of the Attorney General (AG) and Judiciary support staff have settled for renowned lawyer Modecai Msisha, senior counsel (SC), to resolve their outstanding issue concerning housing allowances.
This follows an order High Court Judge Charles Mkandawire made last week that the two parties should appoint a mediator within seven days, which has since expired.
The order came after the staff vacated an injunction obtained by the AG restraining them to proceed with their strike which was stopped in May this year.
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Apoche Itimu was not available but spokespersons for Judiciary and for the Support Staff Union Mlenga Mvula and Andy Hariwa, respectively confirmed the development in separate interviews.
Mvula and Hariwa said the AG’s office accepted yesterday to have Msisha as the conciliator after the staff representatives proposed his name alongside those of two retired judges.
“I can confirm Judiciary members of staff and the Attorney General have indeed agreed to have experienced lawyer Modecai Msisha to be the conciliator. The agreement has been reached upon today so this means any day from now we are going into the actual mediation process as per the order by Justice Charles Mkandawire,” said Mvula.
On his part Hariwa said their lawyer has since written Msisha and were only waiting for his response on whether he would accept the responsibility or not.
“Once we get his response and he accepts to mediate we will set a date for the process to start as per an order by Justice Charles Mkandawire that we must resolve our disagreements through the mediator within 21 days,” said Hariwa last evening.
Msisha was also not available when contacted to comment on the responsibility to mediate.
The Judiciary support staff agreed to have a mediator in their push for their demands, barely weeks after rejecting the Malawi Law Society (MLS) from bringing together the two sides.
The workers have been demanding that Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe should release money for their housing allowances which Parliament approved in July last year for them as well as judicial officers. Currently, only judicial officers receive the allowances.
After seeing no progress on the matter, the Judiciary workers went on a sit-in on May 2 this year, but the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale obtained an injunction on the basis that the strike did not comply with Section 44 of the Labour Relations Act.
Last week, the discontented employees went back to court and vacated the injunction but Justice Mkandawire ordered them not to proceed with the strike but to resolve their matter through a mediator.
Their grievances date back to 2014 when they started pushing for a 45 percent salary increment, but along the lines of the 46 percent government gave the mainstream civil service, they only got 18 percent and now want the difference.