Malawi: Commonwealth Lawyers Call for Independent Inquiry Into Malawi Judges Bribery

15 January 2020

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) is calling for urgent and independent inquiry into allegations that some prominent figures who were attempting to bribe the five-judge panel working on a judgement for the presidential elections nullification petition.

Moses Mkandawire: ACB should appoint external monitor.-Photo by Watipaso Mzungu,Nyasa Times

A statement released by the international non-profit-making organisation dated January 14 joins the voices of Alliance Against Serious and Organised Corruption, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) and local civil society organisations which earlier in the week urged ACB on the same.

"CLA urges that a full and independent enquiry into the allegations of bribery of Judges takes place and notes the importance to the Rule of Law of the independence of the Judiciary and the legal profession as described in section 4 of the Latimer House Principles," reads the statement made available to Nyasa Times.

Since the allegation that some top figures in Malawi attempted to bribe judges in the election case came to light over the weekend, there has been an uproar from various sectors urging the ACB to expedite the case.

On Tuesday the graft busting body held a new conference in Lilongwe, confirming what Nyasa Times earlier reported that the allegations were made in November last year.

ACB director general Reyneck Matemba sais the graft-busting investigations into the matter were underway.

Matemba said the country's Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda, had written the bureau, alleging that some prominent figures had approached two judges with a bribe to influence the election case judgment expected in February.

But Matemba refused to reveal the names of the alleged prominent figures and the judges who were approached.

"For legal reasons I can not reveal the names but I can reveal that one is a senior person in one of the three arms of government while the other is a renowned business person -- that's how far I can go," said Matemba.

The ACB chief has since assured the public that the Bureau will handle the case with the urgency it deserves.

ButAlliance Against Serious and Organised Corruption has asked the ACB to deal with allegations of bribery attempts effectively and transparently as the investigation into the matter would not only be tackling the alleged corruption, but also defending the integrity of concerned judicial process.

In a letter to Matemba, the alliance's executive director Moses Mkandawire asked the ACB to appoint an external monitor from abroad who can also be a liaison to the civil society organisations

On December 20, the five-judge panel comprising Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo completed hearing the landmark case broadcast live on radio, a first in the country. The judges indicated they would deliver their judgement within 45 days after the close of the hearing.

In the elections case, two of the presidential candidates in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, UTM Party's Saulos Chilima (the first petitioner) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Lazarus Chakwera (the second petitioner) want the court to nullify presidential election results over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management system.

Incumbent President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who was declared winner of the elections, is the first respondent with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as the second respondent.

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