2020 Chatham House Prize goes to Malawi’s Constitutional Court judges

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi’s Constitutional Court have been voted as the winner of the 2020 Chatham House Prize as recognition of their role in upholding the independence of the judiciary in the historic February 2020 court case ruling on the disputed 2019 presidential election.

In a letter to Judge President of the High Court Malawi dated a October 23, Chatham House Prize’s Director and Chief Executive, Dr Robin Niblett said the choice among the nominees for the Prize was made by a ballot of all Chatham House members.

Dr Robin Niblett

“All of us at Chatham House, including our three Presidents — Sir John Major, Baroness Manningham-Buller and The Lord Darling of Roulanish — join me in sending you our warmest congratulations,” said the notification from Niblett.

“We very much hope that we will be able to arrange a presentation in person in the near future, perhaps in Lilongwe, as well as in the UK next year at our London Conference, which we are planning to hold in June.

“In the first instance, I would be grateful if you can confirm your willingness to accept the award. If you were able to accept, we would aim to make public the result as soon as possible and after further consultation with you.

The Constitutional Court judges

“I would be happy to discuss any questions you may have in a call. On behalf of everyone at Chatham House, please accept our warm congratulations once again.”

The Chatham House Prize was instigated in 2005 and is awarded on behalf of Patron, Her Majesty The Queen.

The Constitutional Court case judges were Justices Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu, Dingiswayo Madise and Michael Tembo.

The Queen is Chatham House patron

In the first notification of their nomination in July, Chatham House said the judges had been considered for “the bravery in protecting the constitutional process” during the presidential elections case that annulled the 2019 polls and called for fresh elections.

“The bravery shown by you and your fellow in protecting the constitutional process has made a strong impression on our research programmes and our three presidents,” the letter from Niblett had said.

“Since its establishment in 1920, Chatham House has been a world-leading centre for research and analysis of international affairs.

Hillary Clinton received hers in 2013

“In 2005, Chatham House inaugurated a new international award, the Chatham House Prize, to be presented each year to the institution or statesperson who is judged by our members to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year.”

Niblett further explains that the selection process is rigorous and takes place in three stages and draw on the input of their senior research teams.

“Their recommendations are presented to our co-presidents (Sir John Major, Lord Alistair Darling and Baroness Manningham-Buller) who produce the shortlist of nominees, which is then voted on by the full Chatham House membership.

Ukraine’s Victor Yuschenko was first recipient

“The first Chatham House prize was won by HE Victor President of the Ukraine. Since then winners have included HE Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,

President of Brazil; HE Joaquim Chissano, President of Mozambique; and HE John Kufuor, President of Ghana.

Chatham House, that is celebrating 100 years of independent thinking, says on its website that it owes no allegiance to any government or any political body and it does not take institutional positions on policy issues.

Former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano

“As a world-leading policy institute, our mission is to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world,” says Chatham House on its website.

“We deliver our mission through:

*Dialogue: Engaging governments, the private sector, civil society and our members in open debates and private discussions on the major issues in world politics.

*Research: Rigorous analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities.

*Leadership: Training the next generation of policy influencers to deepen their knowledge of the critical political issues and to develop their analytical and problem-solving skills.”

The Constitutional Court annulled results of the 2019 presidential elections following serious irregularities that were presented by the petitioners — Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party President Saulos Chilima.

After the Democratic Progressive Party President Peter Mutharika appealed the verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling and the fresh election took place on June 23 that saw Chakwera, in the Tonse Alliance with Chilima and other parties, winning th election.

Coronavirus alert