Malawi

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.

Malawi’s courts will intervene, even in party political disputes - judge

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.

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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.

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