Malawi

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.

Don’t use “constitution” as a “mantra”, Malawi’s supreme court warns

Malawi’s former agriculture minister, George Chaponda, was a key figure in that country’s “Maizegate” scandal around the importation of maize from Zambia to replenish stocks that had allegedly fallen low. Public criticism of apparent corruption led to a presidential commission of inquiry and then to high court action to have Chaponda stand down during the inquiry. Though the high court initially ordered Chaponda’s suspension, the supreme court has just ruled that it was wrong to do so, and that the judge had ignored binding precedent.

Read the judgment on MalawiLII

When Malawi was gripped by a maize shortage scare a few years ago the government arranged to buy more from Zambia. But allegations of corruption soon followed against George Chaponda, then minister responsible for agriculture, as well as other officials in Malawi and in Zambia.

So great was the public outcry that a presidential commission of inquiry was established to investigate.  

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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