By Duncan Mlanjira
President Lazarus Chakwera, in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by Section 111 of the Constitution of Malawi, has appointed four judges to serve as Justices of Appeal and include Justices Potani and Ivy Kamanga, who were involved in the February 2020 landmark Constitutional Court ruling of the disputed 2019 presidential election case.
The Constitutional Judges for the case were Justices Potani, Kamanga, Redson Kapindu, Dingiswayo Madise and Michael Tembo — who have since 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 ruling.
The other two judges elevated to serve as Justices of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal are Justices John Katsala and Charles Mkandawire.
Chakwera also appointed 12 others to serve as judges of the High Court of Malawi in which six are women — Her Honour Agnes Thokozani Patemba; Her Honour Anneline Kanthambi, Her Honour Vikochi J.N. Chima; Her Worship Violet Chipao; Mrs Maureen Kondowe and Mrs Charlotte Wezi Malonda.
The men are His Honour Justus Asante Kishindo; His Worship Mzonde Eric G. Mvula; His Worship Simeon Mdeza; Mr. Masauko Timothy Mtambo; Mr. William Yakuwawa Msiska and Mr. Mandala Dick Mambulasa.
A statement from the Judicial Appointments in the Office of the President and Cabinet, signed by Dr. Janet L. Banda, SC, says the appointments are with effect from October 20, 2020.
The five Constitutional Judges received a letter of confirmation of their award dated October 23 from Chatham House Prize’s Director and Chief Executive, Dr Robin Niblett who said the choice among the nominees for the Prize was made by a ballot of all Chatham House members.
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.
The Chatham House Prize was instigated in 2005 and is awarded on behalf of Patron, Her Majesty The Queen and since its establishment in 1920, Chatham House has been a world-leading centre for research and analysis of international affairs.
From 2005, Chatham House inaugurated the international award, presented each year to the institution or statesperson who is judged by its members to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year.
First Chatham House prize was won by HE Victor Yuschenko, President of the Ukraine and since then winners have included President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Mozambiqu Joaquim Chissano, e; and President of Ghana John Kufuor.
Chatham House, deliver its 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.