As election fever hots up in Malawi, a high court judge has reminded political parties of something many would rather forget: that under certain circumstances the judiciary is obliged to hear and decide party disputes. It could not be denied that courts had jurisdiction over ‘political disputes’ raising issues of a judicial nature, the judge said. And, where appropriate, for example if a party breached its own constitution or acted arbitrarily, judges had to “do their duty” and hear such cases.
With general elections due in Malawi during May 2019, it is hardly surprising to find political parties have already begun bringing cases to court related to the upcoming polls.
But the latest case, involving Malawi Congress Party (MCP) hopeful, Patrick Bandawe, gave the court an opportunity to establish some important principles that political parties should bear in mind.