Law students at the University of Malawi (Unima) have obtained an injunction stopping the university from abolishing faculties and creating schools of law, humanities, education, arts and sciences.
The students argued in their application for injunction that abolition of faculties means removing the position of dean of faculty and in their case, they will lose legal representation and their relationship and connection with the Malawi Council of Legal Education where the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Malawi sits.
On 16th December 2021, Unima held a meeting and resolved to institute different schools within the University of Malawi, in the exercise of its powers under the University of Malawi Act. The schools are School of Arts, Communication and Design; School of Education; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; School of Law, Economic and Governance; and School of Natural and Applied Sciences.
In august this year, the University Registrar issued communication which was to the effect that the operationalization of the Schools and the appointed Acting Executive Deans would take effect on 1st September, 2022.
The registrar Mary Wasiri told students that the university had appointed five acting executive deans for the schools.
Law students Khama Maere, Trecia Ndelema, Bentry Nyondo, Luntha Mbvundula and Simon Kaunda dragged the university to court over the decision.
Maere who is President of the Students Law Society said law students in the University of Malawi have now lost legal representation and their relationship and connection with the Malawi Council of Legal Education where the current Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Malawi sits.
They added that Malawi Council of Legal Education is an important body which regulates legal education in Malawi and in the absence of representation on the Council, the law students in the University of Malawi will be detached from the Council:
They also argued that they have lost their connection and affection with the Honours Committee of the Malawi Law Society which is integral to the professional and career development of law students.
“The Defendant’s decision to abolish the Faculty of Law therefore threatens and adversely affects the interests of the Claimants herein.
“I believe that the Defendant’s decision abolishing the Faculty of Law and instituting the School of Law, Economics and Governance without involving or consulting the Claimants decision is also procedurally unfair and undermines the membership of the Claimants as members of the University of Malawi.
“It is my sincere belief that had the Defendant involved and engaged the Claimants as members of the University in its decision making processes, the Claimants would have brought to the Defendant’s attention, the various pertinent implications of abolishing the Faculty of Law before taking into account the necessary considerations to abate any adverse effects on the Claimants’ interests.” Maere said.
The students further said that the University of Malawi has no powers to appoint Acting Executive Deans but rather that it can only appoint the Actual Executive Deans. They added that the acting executive deans are all males which means the university did not consider the Gender Equality Act when making appointments.
The High Court in Zomba went on to grant an injunction to the students restraining the university from implementing the decision to establish different Schools, including the School of Law, Economics and Governance in the University of Malawi until a judicial review on the matter is concluded.
Meanwhile, the University of Malawi has said it will challenge the injunction.
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