Judge Zione Ntaba

Malawi's national broadcaster refused permission for "live" coverage of major trial: here's why

Malawi's high court judge Zione Jane Veronica Ntaba is no stranger to controversy. Among her decisions she found her country's Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda and the whole of the Malawi Judicial Service Commission had acted irregularly, illegally and unconstitutionally. Now she has made another noteworthy decision, turning down a request to have the second half of a potentially sensational trial broadcast by the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. Here’s the background – and her reasons.

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One of the most gripping legal matters in Malawi is the trial of 12 accused charged with murdering Macdonald Masambuka, 22. Masambuka went missing last year and his body was eventually found several weeks later, dismembered and buried.

Malawi’s CJ, JSC acted illegally over new appointments – high court

When a number of court clerks obtained an order temporarily stopping the country’s Judicial Service Commission and the Chief Justice from recruiting and appointing a certain category of magistrate until their employment dispute was fully considered by the high court, the stage was set: some high court judge would have to consider whether Malawi’s top judge and judicial appointment authority were acting illegally. Judge Zione Ntaba drew the short straw.

Read judgment on MalawiLII

High court judge Zione Ntaba has delivered a decision she will never forget. Though her official profile lists Judge Ntaba’s passions as the rights of women and children, disability issues and the problems of HIV and AIDS, this is quite different. It is a decision in which she found that Malawi’s Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda, and the country’s Judicial Service Commission had acted irregularly, illegally and unconstitutionally.

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