Chief Justice (CJ) Andrew Nyirenda has retired after serving the Judiciary for six years in that position.
Former president Peter Mutharika appointed him in March 2015.
A statement issued by the Judiciary, and duly signed by Registrar of the Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court of Malawi Gladys Gondwe, indicates tha Lazarus Lazarus t functions of CJ will be performed by Justice Rezine Mzikamanda.
“Section 113(1) of the Republican Constitution stipulates that, in the case of a vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice as is the case presently, the functions of the Chief Justice shall be performed by the most senior [justice] sitting on the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“Currently, the most senior [justice] sitting on Supreme Court of Appeal is Justice of Appeal Rizine Mzikamanda, SC. Justice of Appeal R. Mzikamanda will, therefore, by operation of law, perform the functions of the office of the Chief Justice of the Republic of Malawi until such a time when it shall please His Excellency the State President to appoint a successor to the Honourable Chief Justice Nyirenda [retired],” the statement indicates.
President Lazarus Chakwera, in a statement, described Nyirenda as an icon of excellence in leading the Malawi Judiciary.
“Under his leadership the independence of the Malawi Judiciary has grown overwhelmingly, attracting the praise and admiration of the international community,” reads the statement.
Earlier last week, Gondwe said the Judiciary had submitted names of those that could be appointed as judges of the High Court and Justices of the Supreme Court of Appeal to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
“We made the submissions last Friday [December 10 2021]. As such, the process is now in the hands of the Judicial Service Commission to do what is required under the law. As such, we anticipate appointments for both Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court justices and judges, respectively, not too long from now. We shall wait to hear from the Judicial Service Commission,” she said.
A senior member at the JSC, who spoke off record, confirmed receiving the submission from the Judiciary.
“Yes, we received the submission from the Judiciary. Right now, we have done the short listing and submitted names to the Ministry of Justice and we are waiting to hear from them,” the source said.
Prior to the June 23 2020 presidential election, the then chief secretary to the government Lloyd Muhara, a judge himself, wrote the office of the CJ directing that he proceeds, alongside Justice Edward Twea (retired), on leave pending retirement as he had accumulated more days than his leave could allow.
However, President Chakwera reversed the decision.
Twea retired earlier this year, followed by Nyirenda this week.