Hunter Hunted: Chief Justice Dragged To Court By His Own Clerks

Nyirenda: Under Fire

Malawi’s Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has been dragged to court by his own people, 17 court clerks, for not giving them a chance to get employed as third grade magistrates.

The clerk’s are bitter with Nyirenda for allowing the Judicial Service Comission to recruit third grade magistrates outside the judiciary system when the clerks also qualify for the job as they have diplomas in law from the University of Malawi.

They argue that employing people from outside the civil service when qualified and suitable personnel is available is contrary to section 13 (1) (b) of the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulations.

The clerks delivered a petition to Nyirenda on April 12 asking him to suspend the recruitment as the matter is being resolved internally.

The High Court in Zomba is expected to have interpartes hearing on April 23 following an injunction pending judicial review on the matter.

 

Below is the petition in verbatin

FROM      :      MEMBERS OF STAFF HOLDING A DIPLOMA IN LAW.

TO            :      THE HONOURABLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE/CHAIRMAN OF THE JUDICIAL                       SERVICE COMMISSION.

Cc           :      The Registrar of the Supreme Court and High Court.

:       The Controller of Human Resource Management and                                              Development.

DATE       :      April 12, 2018

 

SUBJECT :      PETITION ON IRREGULARITIES WITHIN THIRD GRADE MAGISTRATES                      SELECTION AND RECRUITMENT

Your Lordship the Honourable Chief Justice,

May your attention be drawn to the hereunder observations by the undersigned members of the Malawi Judiciary who are holders of Diploma in Law. In this petition we would like to formally report and make recommendations over the sad and irregular developments that have occurred before, during and after we had undergone interviews for the post of the Third Grade Magistrate (Grade K).

With due respect, we invite you to view this petition as a formal way to engage you in an attempt to have a peaceful in-house resolution over the issues to be raised herein. The petition will bring to your attention the background to the issue, matters that have arisen, recommendations and/or action points for your indulgence in your capacity as the Chief Justice as well as the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission.

BACKGROUND

Your Lordship the Honourable Chief Justice,

You might wish to be informed that we, the undersigned, had undergone interviews for the post of Third Grade Magistrate as alluded to above. We acknowledge the efforts undertaken by your office through the office of the Controller of Human Resource Management and Development and the Judicial Service Commission for facilitating the recruitment of Third Grade Magistrates, as the same would ensure the achievement of the long awaited aspirations of judiciary employees holding a Diploma in Law.

ADVERTISEMENT OF THE POST

It is our considered view that the advertisement of the post of Third Grade Magistrates in the local newspaper was contravening section 13(1) (b) of the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulations (See attachment 1). In that regard the advertisement itself was a departure from the precedented course, which was, until recently, always recruitment using skills inventory.

To support the fact that there was no intention to advertise the post, your office through the Controller of Human Resource Management and Development made phone calls to confirm if indeed the incumbent employees do hold Diploma in Law. Such a spirit was a clear indication that our efforts were recognised and that our long wait in pursuit of becoming Magistrates was coming to fruition. The office confirmed that a total number of 24 employees are holders of a Diploma in Law. This also formed the basis upon which the establishment warrant was obtained which is confirmed by the number of Magistrates that have been recruited.

We therefore find the advertisement of the post irregular and inconsistent with the spirit of the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulations.

INTERVIEWS

During the interviews, we were told that results would be out by the fourth week thereafter. Recently, however, we were puzzled by the conduct of the Judicial Service Commission in that a lot of external candidates for the same post were being contacted regarding their success.

Upon a thorough fact-finding mission, we have learnt that out of twenty four internal candidates, only seven internal candidates have been offered the post which represents less than 1/3 of all post offered.

While at it, Your Lordship the Chief Justice, we have other colleagues who faced huddles during the interviews. The said officers are ranked at Grade J and had faced difficulties during the interviews in that they were told that they were overqualified for the post of Third Grade Magistrate.  These people despite being invited for interviews were seriously embarrassed and were told that despite being interviewed for the post they were not going to be considered as the JSC was charged with a duty to promote and not demote. At one point the interviews had to be stopped to address the issue. Your Lordship, we hope a report on the same was served to you regarding Messrs’ Prince Mpasakuphe and Mike Lungu, who had to undergo such a predicament yet there is a precedent within the system where members of staff at a Grade J and having obtained a Diploma in Law were able to assume duties of Third Grade Magistrates (Grade K) and are now serving in that capacity because the conditions of service for the two jobs are different. We believe our colleagues’ legitimate expectations were that they would as well be considered for the post.

 

MATTERS ARISING

Your Lordship the Honourable Chief Justice,

It is quite interesting to report to you that issues related to the conduct regarding our interviews have let us baffled. While we expected, by virtue of being internal candidates, to be well updated on the issues regarding the interviews we had attended, it has always been external candidates detailing to us the same.

For instance, when the advert was about to be made for the Third Grade Magistrate posts, it was externals who intimated to us that the Malawi Judiciary was intending to hire more external than internal candidates. While we questioned that, it has been confirmed by the results.

Secondly, while none of the said successful candidates within the Malawi Judiciary have been contacted regarding their success, some outsiders have. That, we believe, is unjust and this is why we would like to register our ultimate dissatisfaction with the whole process.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Your Lordship the Chief Justice;

In view of the above premises we present to you our petition in your capacity as our Chief Justice and the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission in which we make the following recommendations:

  1. That as the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission you should halt the deployment of Third Grade Magistrates until investigations into alleged irregularities in the selection and recruitment process are addressed;
  2. That your office should apply and implement the principles as stipulated by the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulations by giving preference to serving officers in the Judiciary.

 

CONCLUSION

Your Lordship the Chief Justice;

The preference of recruitment of internal candidates over external candidates cannot be overemphasised as it would; boost morale as internal promotion motivates workers; ensure maximum utilisation of serving employees and benefits government from its training expenses. We therefore petition your office to consider offering the post to internal candidates unless there is undoubted failure on the candidate.

 We believe that this petition will be taken into account so that we bring back the motivation while laying a cordial working ethic that subscribes to the mission, objectives and core values of the Malawi Judiciary.

 

At your service,

 

 

Prince Mpasakuphe

Issa Eddie Salanje

Patrick Kachingwe

Jamison Chakuma

Henry Zimba

Jollam Munkhondya

Andrew Nyirongo

Malikebu Msomali

Chifundo Matchaya

Clara Makwangwala

Felix Madukani

Moses Chaputula

Fidess Kathumba

Mike Lungu

Bernadett Mwangosi

Joseph Muweta

One Response to "Hunter Hunted: Chief Justice Dragged To Court By His Own Clerks"

  1. Anonymous   April 22, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Unenesko

    Reply

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