Court faults Mutharika on separation of powers

The High Court in Lilongwe has ruled that former President Peter Mutharika and former Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara breached the code of conduct of separation of powers when they forced Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on forced leave pending retirement.

On June 12, 2020, the former administration wrote the office of the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justice of Appeal Edward Twea, directing them to proceed on a leave pending retirement as they had accumulated more leave days, a development which led the Malawi Law Society, Association of Magistrates and the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to challenge the decision in court.

Among other things the applicants wanted a judicial review of the decision and pleaded that any costs to be incurred on the case be personally paid by the former president Mutharika and Muhara respectively.

Delivering his ruling on the case, on August 27, 2020, Judge Charles Mkandawire said neither Mutharika nor Muhara had the power to send the judges on leave.

He said the matter was an internal judiciary issue thus the former president and the former chief secretary to government interfered with the roles and operations of the judiciary, an independent arm of government.

Mkandawire added that the court will invite both Mutharika and Muhara in the next seven days to hear their side before ruling whether the defendants should individually pay for the costs.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led admiration has been at logger heads with the judiciary following the nullification of the 2019 presidential elections by the constitutional court.

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