We have had some bitter-sweet taste of news this week. On one hand, we are hit by the appalling news that the levels of corruption in this land of ours are far from decreasing. On the other hand, we saw seven High Court judges being appointed.
Obviously, the appointment of the judges is worth celebrating and, perhaps, timely, if you take into consideration the issue of corruption levels. It is very depressing to learn that there is always a backlog of cases each year requiring the attention of judges but since there usually are not enough to go around, then justice delivery takes an unprecedented slow pace, meaning that the common man is again pushed to the very end of the queue.
And then we have also previously had scenarios where a judge has taken longer than the time anticipated to hear and be done with a matter, a trend which we hope would be brought to a stop. It is my belief and conviction that our judges are morally astute and would therefore do everything in their power to ensure that they serve the interests of the public by dishing out justice in good time and in a satisfactory manner.
We must pat President Lazarus Chakwera on the back for taking right steps towards filling the gap within the judicial system when it comes to key personnel issues. Yes we must not applaud someone for doing their job but there comes a time when one does exceptionally well and, in this instance, the President has struck the right chord.
I still vividly recall that after he assumed office in 2020, in October the very same year Chakwera appointed 12 High Court judges and four to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and, today, here we are with seven more judges.
Of course, we have to be mindful of the fact that appointments, on their own, mean nothing if the anticipated change in pace within the court room when it comes to disposing of cases does not happen. It goes without saying that the task before these judges, once they are sworn into office, is not an easy one. This is where we now flip the script to look at the other side of the coin.
Since the Cashgate scandal erupted back in 2012-13, not all of the cases related to the matter have been disposed of in our courts. Under the different regimes that we have had since Cashgate emerged on the scene, we have also had cases of huge proportions to do with embezzlement of public funds but, sadly, there has been little or no movement in the courts to bring such matters to a closure.
For the battle against corruption to be won, there has to be political will not just from the President but the entire public system. It is a fact that there are people within the public service who are double-faced characters. When in public, these people loudly preach the message against corruption but later on, you would find the very same characters in some dark alleys making pacts with the very devil they denounced by sealing ‘dirty’ deals. Such individuals play enablers by colluding with those that are abusing the system and the results are there for all to see: shoddy infrastructures, low quality services, abuse of office and power, just to mention a few.
It is for that reason that we all must play a part in ridding the country of stinking corruption. Anti- Corruption Bureau Director General Martha Chizuma and her charges cannot do all the work alone. Society must be their eyes and ears.
Well, if corruption levels are still way too high, then that means the job for the newly appointed judges is already cut out for them. The new judges, and those before them, must prove to the common man that the one who appointed or recommended them did not make a mistake and this they must do by diving head first into that mound of files of corruption cases that have stalled for years. Elsewhere, special tribunals are created just to make sure that such matters are quickly disposed of in the courts but knowing how thin our purse is, we just have to make do with the conventional courts which we already have.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).