MPs push for uniform perks for government lawyers
The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament says it has asked Treasury to harmonise conditions of service among lawyers in the .
It says uncompetitive conditions of service are affecting lawyers at the Ministry of Justice, causing brain drain at the ministry.
Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Albert Mbawala has told The Sunday Times that they have written Treasury to consider putting in place better and uniform incentives for legal practitioners in government.
During cluster meetings, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Masauko Chamkakala, asked the committee to push for uniform approach to lawyers’ salaries in all government entities to stem the tide of legal professionals leaving the ministry.
“The issues were submitted to our committee during the cluster meetings, so as a follow up we have written the Treasury to offer attractive packages to government lawyers in order to retain them,” Mbawala said.
The committee’s action follows a report of massive brain drain at the DPP, among other government agencies.
Mbawala said the DPP needs more lawyers in order to speed up cases. Chairperson of the Public Appointments Committee (Pac) Joyce Chitsulo said she is aware of the situation.
“Unfortunately, as Pac, we only do for specific officers but the issue is long overdue. We will look into this next week during committee meeting,” Chitsulo said.
Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said it is a concern that the ministry is losing good lawyers after training them due to uncompetitive conditions of service in the government.
Solicitor General Alison M’bangombe said that when joining the civil service, every lawyer is aware of what they are expected to receive in terms of salaries and allowances.
But he said what is needed is harmonisation of salaries across departments in the public service.
“There is need for the government to review and put competitive and standardised perks for all civil servants,” he said.
Mbangombe, however, disclosed that government is expected to recruit more lawyers in this financial year, as one way to curb brain drain in the ministry.
He said Treasury has already approved the budget for this exercise.
Executive Director for the Centre of Human Rights and Rehabilitation Michael Kaiyatsa said a uniform approach for lawyers in the government agencies is a good idea.
“There is need to build a more equitable system that provides equal pay for equal work regardless of the profession one is in. That way, we will be able to not only retain lawyers but also to motivate them to work hard,” said Kaiyatsa.
He said the Ministry of Justice is supposed to have more lawyers if Malawians are to enjoy fair justice system.
Kaiyatsa noted that government lawyers represent government in court, and those who cannot afford a lawyer.
As such, there is need for the government to come up with better packages for government lawyers, he said.