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Members of Parliament amend constitution

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MVALO—The idea on
judges’ contracts was to help clear cases

Parliament Thursday passed the constitutional amendment bill that has given autonomy to the Parliamentary Service Commission, paved the way for the creation of the office of the Deputy Chief Justice and extended the tenure of office for Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security office-bearers to two-and-a-half years.

The amendment also consolidated the dissolution date for the tenure of office of Local Government and Parliament’s elected officials during the year of general elections.

However, Justice Minister Titus Mvalo and Legal Affairs Committee Chairperson Peter Dimba confirmed the withdrawal of the amendment that would have seen judges being appointed on contract-basis.

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The two officials said this had been done despite that the proposal came from the Judiciary itself on September 13 2020.

Mvalo and Dimba said the government received a letter from the Judiciary to proceed with the amendment as advised by the Malawi Law Commission in 2007.

However, the Judiciary has rescinded the decision, hence the change of direction on the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

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The amendment has also maintained the retirement age of judges at 65.

“The idea of appointing temporary judges on contract was to help clear cases that involved their special area of expertise,” he said.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill also protects the budget of the national assembly once passed by Parliament.

It also includes a provision for Parliament to exercise its oversight function on government expenditure.

The opposition and government tussled over how some issues were submitted to the chamber for debate, with the opposition calling for a new bill to be circulated.

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