The Magistrates and Judges Association of Malawi (MAJAM) has condemned President Peter Mutharika’s continuous attacks on the Judiciary saying the attacks can spur the country into a state of lawlessness.
In a statement released by MAJAM on June 7 and signed by its president, Howard Pemba and Secretary General, Peter Kandulu, the association said it is worrisome that the attacks are emanating directly from the Head of state.
The judges noted that in the State of the National Address (SONA), the President unwaveringly castigated the judges branding them authors of a “coup d’état” because they ordered a fresh election.
“His sentiments are a vivid display of disrespect for the court’s judgment and therefore a threat to judicial independence and the doctrine of separation of powers which are primary characteristics of a democracy.
“It is our considered view that these continued attacks on the judges by the State President seriously undermine judicial independence and coming from the first citizen have the ability to spur this country into a state of lawlessness should the citizenry opt to emulate the attitude exhibited by the highest office,” reads part of the statement.
The Constitutional Court nullified the 2019 Presidential Elections on February 3. Mutharika who was declared winner in the polls appealed. But the Supreme Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court saying there were serious and troubling irregularities in the 2019 elections.
Since then, Mutharika has been attacking the judges saying they did not prove the results of the election were affected by the irregularities.
In his SONA on Friday, he said Parliament is above the Judiciary and should hold it accountable. He also asked legislators not to agree with everything the courts say.
On this, the Judges’ association said the branches of government are interdependent. It added that the Judiciary is still accountable and transparent since cases are heard in the open courts, and reasons are given for the decisions made based on relevant facts, evidence and the prescriptions of the law.
The association also defended the elections case ruling saying what the judges did was to carry out their duty as called upon by the law.
“As a professor of law, we expected the State President to rise above petty politics and to act as a model to his subjects in upholding and respecting the rule of law which is the cornerstone of every democratic society,” the association said.