Malawi Law Society says new Chief Justice has reputation of integrity
The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has described newly appointed Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda as a well experienced judge who is also well acquainted with operations of the courts.
We sought MLS’s comment on the appointment by President Lazarus Chakwera, which was announced by Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi on Friday.
Mzikamanda, a Senior Counsel, takes over from Justice Andrew Nyirenda who retired as Chief Justice on 25 December last year having attained the mandatory age of 65.
Despite that Mzikamanda will also be retiring soon as he is also approaching the mandatory retirement age, MLS president Patrick Mpaka said the lawyers’ body has confidence in the new Chief Justice.
“We trust that the Judiciary being an institution, there should be continuity in its programmes. As an insider at the top level, we reckon Mzikamanda JA, SC knows what to focus on as his priorities in order to have the right impact in the time available to him as Chief Justice,” Mpaka said.
Since joining the Judiciary in 1983, Mzikamanda has held positions in various judicial offices until he was appointed judge of the High Court in 1997 and later Justice of Appeal in 2012.
Before being appointed judge, he served as a Resident Magistrate, Principal Resident Magistrate, Chief Resident Magistrate, Deputy Registrar and Senior Deputy Registrar of the High Court.
He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Malawi and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Hall, England.
His previous appointments include chairperson of the Special Law Commission on Child Rights, Secretary of the Commission of Inquiry on the Mwanza road accident and deaths at Lilongwe Police Station, chairperson of the Malawi Judicial Training Committee, leader of the Malawi Judiciary Development Programme Report Drafting Team and Alternative Judge of the United Nations Special Tribunal to try former Liberian leader Charles Taylor
He was at one time seconded to the Anti- Corruption Bureau as director-general for two years.
Justice Mzikamanda has conducted research and presented papers at local and international forums on the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law.
In his revised paper titled ‘Some thoughts on effective strategies for combating corruption in Malawi Judiciary’, which he presented at a conference in Mangochi in January 2016, Mzikamanda argued that combatting corruption requires a robust and independent Judiciary of impeccable integrity as a guardian of democracy and rule of law.
“Lack of judicial transparency can create opportunities for judicial corruption and erode public trust,” he said in the paper.
Mzikamanda added that judicial corruption requires a wide range of strategies in order to respond to corrupt activities among judicial officers as well as those between judicial officers and parties outside the Judiciary.
“Malawi’s former Chief Justice, Anastasia Msosa, publicly acknowledged the serious problem of judicial corruption on several occasions. Likewise, her successor, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, described corruption as being, “visible in every sector of society”,” he said.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. Follow him on Twitter @aponje