With funding from the European Union, under the Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme, the Malawi Judiciary Development Programme through the leadership of Justice Joseph Chigona as Chairperson and Ms. Annie Chipeta as Programme Manager has coordinated among other projects the rehabilitation of 5 Magistrate Courts across the country. These courts include Mulanje Magistrate Court, Mwanza Magistrate Court, Nanyumbu Magistrate Court (Ntaja), Nkhotakota Magistrate Court and Mchinji Magistrate Court. The programme seeks to have rehabilitated and furnished 10 Magistrate Courts in a space of five years said Annie Chipeta prior to the launch of the courts. Echoing the words of the Programme Manager, ‘Currently, having completed rehabilitation in the first five courts we have embarked on a second phase which includes, Chitipa Magistrate Court and Balaka Magistrate Court. We expect to initiate the project in Likoma, Rumphi and Dowa Courts in the next year.
The launch of the rehabilitated Courts was held at Mulanje Magistrate Court on the 4th of December, 2019. The event was graced by the presence of the Honorable the Chief Justice of the Republic of Malawi, his Lordship Justice Andrew Nyirenda, SC , the EU delegation and other stakeholders in the Justice sector. The Guest of Honor for the event was the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Honorable Bright Msaka, SC. The launch of the Magistrate Courts commenced with a parade from Chitakale Trading Center to the Mulanje Court house with the company of the Prisons brass band. Later on the distinguished guests attended to a demonstration court hearing in the newly rehabilitated court, with Her Worship Shaheeda Bakili sitting as the Senior Resident Magistrate for Mulanje District Court. The District Commissioner for Mulanje and the Traditional Authority Mabuka, in their speeches thanked the EU for considering Mulanje to be part of the beneficiary districts in the Courts rehabilitation project.
The Honourable the Chief Justice, highlighted how impressions matter expressing why it is vital to have a welcoming environment for persons who come to the courts in pursuit of justice as the courts are the symbol and face of justice and represent how much we value justice and rule of law.
The Honorable Minister, stated that the opening of the newly rehabilitated court for dispensation of justice represents a milestone in the consolidation of Malawi’s democracy. He expressed that our democracy which is founded on the rule of law, justice and equality, will attain a new and more desirable level. The EU delegation in Malawi highlighted how speedy and fair delivery of justice is essential for Malawi’s development. He indicated that the demo hearing he witnessed emphasizes the need for local courts to reduce pressure on Magistrate Courts.
The event was also spiced up with traditional dances, poetry and drama carrying a theme of promoting justice and serving people better which is the theme of the current 2019-2024 Malawi Judiciary Strategic Plan.