President Lazarus Chakwera has promoted four High Court of Malawi judges to justices of appeal (JAs) in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal with effect from June 10 2022.
In an interview on Monday, Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda confirmed the appointments made on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
He said the new JAs will help in the disposal of cases that stalled due to shortage of judges in the highest court on the land.
Mzikamanda said: “I can confirm that there are indeed four new judges at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal who were indeed appointed on June 10 2022. But for now, I cannot start going into much detail.”
The four new JAs are Sylvester Kalembera, who was also judge president in the High Court, Dingiswayo Madise, Rowland Mbvundula and Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga.
Information from the Judiciary shows that the Supreme Court has an establishment of 13 judges, including the Chief Justice. Before the fresh appointments, there were seven JAs, meaning that there is a shortfall of two.
The High Court of Malawi, on the other hand, has an establishment of 45 judges, but had less than 42. This means the High Court will now have 38 judges, leaving a deficit of seven.
Newly-appointed acting registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court Kondwani Banda was yet to provide the judge to population ratio when asked.
In a separate interview, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Patrick Mpaka said while the appointments are commendable, it will create a wider resource gap in the High Court of Malawi.
He said this will be the case since the High Court is where many cases are heard.
Mpaka said: “We congratulate the appointees and commend the Judicial Service Commission and State President for filling the gaps at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
“But as you can see, because all the appointees are from the High Court of Malawi, this will create a wider resource gap [in the High Court of Malawi.”
In February this year, the MLS asked Chakwera and the Judicial Service Commission to treat the issue of inadequate judges in the Supreme Court as a matter of urgency.
The plea came after the Supreme Court failed to start hearing an appeal between the lawyers’ mother body and the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) registrar of financial institutions due to shortage of judges.
Section 111 (ii) of Malawi’s Constitution stipulates that all judges shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
In November 2020, five months after winning the June 23 court-sanctioned Fresh Presidential Election, Chakwera appointed 12 new High Court judges and four JAs.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice has appointed Kondwani Banda as acting registrar, Kingsley Mlungu as senior deputy registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court and Innocent Nebi as acting deputy registrar.