Malawi Judiciary Establishes Committee to Monitor Electoral Dispute Management

Malawi Judiciary establishes committee to monitor electoral disputes, seeks to improve public confidence in justice system ahead of 2025 elections.

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Quadri Adejumo
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Malawi Judiciary Establishes Committee to Monitor Electoral Dispute Management

Malawi Judiciary Establishes Committee to Monitor Electoral Dispute Management

Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda announced on Thursday that the Malawi Judiciary has established a Judiciary Committee on Elections to monitor the management of electoral disputes and ensure efficient and effective resolution. The committee, chaired by Justice Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga, has engaged the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and the Judiciary's Rules and Legal Reforms Committee to review electoral laws and develop election law reports and digests.

The Chief Justice emphasized the importance of the Judiciary being ready to handle electoral disputes in the 2025 General Elections and beyond, while maintaining public confidence in the dispensation of justice. "The Judiciary must be prepared to handle electoral disputes in the 2025 General Elections and beyond while maintaining public confidence in the dispensation of justice," said Mzikamanda.

MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale acknowledged the need for a responsive electoral dispute resolution mechanism, and said the Judiciary is working with the Kenyan Judiciary to improve its handling of electoral disputes and create a system that is fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of Malawians.

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has asked President Lazarus Chakwera to be decisive on emerging issues of national interest that could arise during the September 2025 General Elections and may need advance legal interpretation. MLS believes that the President should refer such issues to the High Court of Malawi to eliminate any uncertainties in the public domain ahead of time. This would help prepare the nation for a smooth and efficient election and empower the electorate to make informed decisions.

Why this matters: The establishment of the Judiciary Committee on Elections is a significant step towards ensuring a fair and efficient electoral process in Malawi. With the 2025 General Elections approaching, it is vital that the Judiciary is prepared to handle any electoral disputes that may arise, while maintaining public trust in the justice system.

The MLS annual conference also observed that while there has been some significant electoral law reform, there remain shortfalls in the dispute resolution framework. The conference recommended that policyholders and lobbyists should consider law reform in dispute resolution over presidential election petitions and also consider conferring original jurisdiction on the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal to hear and resolve all presidential election matters within specified and strict, but reasonable timelines as the final arbiter. The establishment of a tribunal set up specifically to adjudicate election matters was also seen as a viable alternative for possible consideration by the legal and policymakers.

Key Takeaways

  • Malawi judiciary establishes committee to monitor electoral disputes.
  • Committee to review electoral laws and develop reports for 2025 elections.
  • Judiciary aims to maintain public confidence in election dispute resolution.
  • MLS asks president to refer election issues to High Court for legal clarity.
  • Calls for reform in presidential election petition dispute resolution framework.