Tuesday, October 21, 2014
   
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Lawyers Sympathize with Judiciary

Lawyer members of the Malawi Law Society in Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu chapters have expressed official solidarity with civil servants who are on a nation-wide strike in the judiciary.

The lawyers walked in procession into court premises in the four cities this morning complete in their gowns and white head gear to read out a statement of solidarity with the striking judiciary staff.

“The Law Society notes with great concern the negative effect the strike of the members of the judiciary has had on the rule of law, good governance and human rights generally. In particular, the strike has negatively affected the right to access the courts in furtherance of civil or criminal justice; the right to an effective remedy; and the right to economic activity,” Law Society president John Gift Mwakhwawa told a gathering at Blantyre registry.

Besides violation of peoples’ right to access to justice, the society also makes mention of the fact that the on-going strike is affecting their economic activity and that of the country at-large.

The lawyers say the striking officers in the judiciary are justified to demand a full implementation of their salaries and remuneration as approved by the National Assembly way back in 2006.

The statement was read out at the Blantyre registry, the High Court in Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu cities this morning.

Judiciary staff have been on strike since January 9, 2012 and vow to continue with the industrial action until government reacts appropriately by implementing the revised pay packages.

According to the Judicature Act of the Malawi Constitution, salaries and remuneration of judicial officers and staff in the whole judiciary must be reviewed every after three years and approved by Parliament.

Because the 2006 parliament approved pay packages were not implemented, the review process failed to take place in 2009 as per the constitutional expectation.

The executive arm of government has not made public its reasons for failing to implement the law even after the High Court sitting in 2007 clarified that the executive had no powers to determine when pay packages for the Chief Justice and other officers in the judiciary should be reviewed and how.

A spokesperson of the striking workers in Lilongwe said the judiciary staff were excited that other court users understand their problem.

“This gives us courage to move on. We are happy that stakeholders understand our position. All we are saying is that government should implement the approved salaries and we will immediately return to work. It is that simple,” he said.

However, a senior officer in the justice system says the matter may not end shortly as there are a string of constraints within the system that must first be resolved.

“It is not a straight forward matter as others may think, the mere fact that this has not been implemented is an issue in itself,” the official said.

“He said while parliament indeed determined the next course of action, there were issues of much money would be involved and where it was going to be sourced “that is a matter for another thought.

“Suppose, for argument’s sake, there are no resources in the kitty…you need to be careful…Mechanisms have to be put in place as there are implications. No quick fix measures here we need to understand why the order was not followed where did the system fail ?” he asked. —Zodiak Online

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