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Personnel shortage hits Industrial Relations Court

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At least 250 cases are awaiting hearing at the Mzuzu Industrial Relations Court (IRC) as, currently, the registry has no chairperson to adjudicate cases.

This has been the case for the past two months as former deputy chairperson King Mulungu was promoted to another rank.

According to an inside source, there is just an acting assistant registrar at the registry who does not have adjudicating powers.

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“In this case, where we have no deputy chairperson in Mzuzu, the chairperson and deputy chairperson from Lilongwe will be moving to Mzuzu to sort cases that are there. This will happen until such a time that the Judiciary decides to appoint the chairperson for the Northern Region,” he said.

The two are Viva Nyimba and Howard Pemba, who will be working alternately.

Commenting on the matter, Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Kondwani Banda said, currently, the two are working on hearing schedules with an expectation to commence work in about two weeks.

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“As I speak, they are just coming up with case hearing schedules. Once they are done, they will be sitting, probably from next of next week… so they will be swapping; one comes in this week, the other one the other week until such a time we fill the vacancy but the process is ongoing,” he said.

However, according to the source, there is no probable candidate who could suit in the position of Deputy Chairperson for the Mzuzu Registry.

“Most of the officers do not qualify because they have not served on a particular post. Rules of the public service stipulate that if I serve on a particular post for more than four years, one can be considered.

“So, the problem is that the crop that we have has not served for more than four years,” he said.

However, Banda quashed the sentiments, saying there is a procedure that is followed, which has already started.

“At the Judiciary, you have to write the Department of Human Resource at Capital Hill, which gives you authority to fill a position. Once that position has been filled, what it means is that [on the issue of the position] that is left vacant after filling the other one, you have to write again to declare that there is a vacancy and you are given authority to fill it. So, it’s a process; it is not a one day thing,” he said.

Established under Section 110(2) of the Republican Constitution, IRC has jurisdiction over labour disputes and other issues relating to employment.

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