Government will not withhold salaries for the judiciary workers

Goodall Gondwe

Goodall Gondwe

The Malawi government has dismissed reports that it will withhold December salaries for the judiciary workers who are on strike.

At least six weeks have elapsed since the support staff in the country’s courts started boycotting their duties to force the government to affect a 45% salary hike.

Sources told Capital FM that the judicial support staff risk forfeiting their monthly pay since they have not been reporting for duties.

Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe, however, expressed ignorance on the matter.

The strike has paralyzed the courts, causing overcrowding in police cells and the indefinite suspension of major cases including government corruption trials.

Court marshals, clerks and messengers are demanding the remuneration amendment promised by the government 2 years ago.

Government authorities say the failure to increase judicial workers’ salaries this year is largely because of financial constraints, following a donor aid freeze against Malawi’s government.

The freeze is a result of a government financial scandal in which more than $30 million was looted from government coffers.

Government authorities say closed door negotiations to resolve the matter continue in the capital, Lilongwe.

A similar strike lasted three months in 2012 after the magistrates and judges joined the labor action.

The ongoing strike is hampering progress of trials, as court operations remain suspended.

Police are complaining of congestion in jail cells, as no suspects are being taken to court.

Malawi Police Services (MPS) say the only option they have is giving police bail to those with minor offenses.  Human rights campaigners and legal experts say the strike is contributing to human rights violations.