Malawi

Landmark sexual harassment case in Malawi

The women of Malawi have been handed a legal victory that will stand them in good stead when faced with sexual harassment and assault at the workplace. It involves a woman working as a time-keeper for construction company Mota-Engil, who went to court over her experience of sexual harassment. She claimed that because her employers did nothing about her complaints, and thus allowed the situation to continue, Mota-Engil was liable to pay ‘aggravated damages’ to her.

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The woman at the centre of this case had a contract with the Mota-Engil construction company and worked as a time-keeper, maintaining accurate records of the length of time taken to complete particular sections of work. Her immediate superior was Joaquim Carvalho, a non-Malawian, Portugese-speaking man, who also worked for the company under contract as general foreman.

Dangers of policing Malawi's 'green', off-season fishing ban

At the heart of this unusual decision by Malawi’s senior magistrates’ court lies a dramatic account of the dangers involved in trying to protect the fragile ecosystem of the country’s fish-rich Lake Chilwa. Apart from ecological concerns the court also speaks with some anxiety about the way police put their members in unnecessary danger by sending them to deal with well-armed, illegal fishing people while hopelessly outnumbered. They were provided with just a paddle boat – against the engine-powered boats used by the fishermen – and were not adequately armed.

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The dangers facing poorly armed police trying to enforce off-season fishing for Malawi’s Lake Chilwa have been graphically illustrated in a new judgment delivered by the country’s senior magistrates’ court last week.

Shock report by Malawi's ombud finds maladministration, corruption behind decision to bring in SA legal team

In a report handed down with commendable promptness, Malawi’s ombudsperson, Martha Chizuma, has found that the procurement of a team of South African lawyers to handle a crucial election appeal by the then-government of Malawi in 2020, amounted to maladministration and an abuse of power. Her shock report made a number of significant findings on this issue, with orders of tough remedial action – but also dealt with several unexpected additional findings of maladministration that had crept into official government appointment practice.

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When Malawi’s then government, under the country’s former President, Peter Mutharika, lost its initial attempt to persuade the courts that the 2019 election was valid, it launched an appeal. But who would argue the case for the government?

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