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No cars for High Court judges

Failure by government to buy an official vehicle for Judge Charles Mkandawire has this week resulted in a number of court users returning from court disappointed as the judge is failing to go to work because the personal vehicle he has been using for the past two years has to undergo service.

Mkandawire is a judge on duty for civil matters this week at the High Court in Lilongwe.

According to a cause list at the court, as a motion judge, Mkandawire was expected to handle 20 cases this week.

As of Wednesday, the development had affected nine cases. One of the cases affected, involved someone travelling from South Africa.

thursday, he had six cases to handle, and The Daily Times established that he was also not in office. Six other cases are Friday.

The judge, has not been allocated an official vehicle since returning from Namibia two years ago, where he worked on secondment at Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Tribunal.

Both Mkandawire and Judiciary Spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, confirmed the development in separate interviews on Wednesday.

“I have been using a personal vehicle for the past two years. But this week, I have transport challenges. The vehicle I have been using also needs to be serviced this week. And there is no other vehicle at the office to be picking me,” Mkandawire said.

Mvula said they have been discussing the issue with Ministry of Finance.

“It is true some judges do not have official vehicles. We have been discussing the issue with the executive. What is coming out clearly is that government does not have money to purchase vehicles for judges,” he said.

He said the other judge yet to be given an official vehicle is Lloyd Muhara who is currently working as Deputy Chief Secretary to the Government.

Mvula’s response means that newly-appointed judges Joseph Chigona, Dorothy de Grabrielle, Ruth Chinangwa and George Bakuwa, will join the waiting list.

Ministry of Finance Spokesperson, Nations Msowoya, said there is no money to purchase judges’ vehicles. He said the Judiciary should find other ways of assisting its officers.

“The judiciary should find ways of making sure that the judges go to work. But that does not mean vehicles should be bought. Government does not have money to buy vehicles for government institutions. In the 2016/17 budget, it is only the Malawi Police Service that has been allocated funds for purchase of vehicles,” Msowoya said.

Judiciary conditions of service stipulate that a High Court judge is entitled to a Toyota Prado TX.

Just a few weeks ago, government authorised the purchase of cars for Malawi Electoral Commissioners after the old commissioners were allowed to take home their official vehicles as per their conditions of service.

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