Government withdraws decision to send Chief Justice on leave

Chief Justice after performing the swearing
of President Chakwera

By Trouble Ziba, MANA

Government has withdrawn its earlier notice to the public regarding Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda (SC) to proceed on leave, instead he will continue discharging his duties.

On June 12, 2020, government, through former Chief Secretary, Lloyd Muhara, announced that the Chief Justice would proceed on leave pending his retirement in 2021.

Former Chief Secretary Lloyd Muhara

In the notice, Muhara cited accumulated leave days for Nyirenda having outnumbered his remaining working days before his retirement.

“Regarding the accumulated leave days of Honourable the Chief Justice, it is a matter between the Honourable the Chief Justice and Judicial Service Commission,” says the notice which is signed by the new Chief Secretary to Government, Zangazanga Chikhosi.

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The earlier decision by the just dislodged DPP Government to attempt to send Nyirenda on leave was viewed by many law experts as intrusion of the Executive Arm of Government into the affairs of the Judiciary and a clear assault to its independence.

Others, both outside and inside the law profession, saw animosity in the decision following the Constitutional Court’s February 3 historical nullification of the May 21, 2019 presidential election on account of massive irregularities.

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Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) declared Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Peter Mutharika winner in that election.

However, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM, through their leaders, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima respectively challenged the election through the court and eventually won the battle.

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MEC and DPP appeal of the case to the country’s Supreme Court of Appeal did not help matters either because the court upheld the decision by the lower court to nullify the election and order for a fresh one.