Why were there no protests when the other judges, in the past, took leave pending retirement? Chief Justice Nyirenda is regarded as an ally by the Opposition and other anti-government actors.
This is why there has been an outcry that is disproportionate to the issue of a Chief Justice being expected to do what others before him have done, i.e take leave pending retirement.
The claim that Chief Justice Nyirenda is being victimised is simply a fable intended to valorise him whilst vilifying the Government and politicising a contractual issue that Chief Justice Nyirenda is well aware of and a practice that other Judges have complied with in the past.
On 5 June, 2020, a letter was written and delivered to Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda reminding him to comply with leave days.
On 8 June, 2020, President Professor Peter Mutharika through Chief Secretary Lloyd Muhara appointed Justice Mzikamanda the acting Chief Justice.
On 12 June, 2020, the notices were published and Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda replied to the letter.
On 14 June 2020, the Human Rights Defenders sought and obtained an injunction to prevent Chief Justice Nyirenda from going on leave.
On 14 June 2020, analysts noted that Justice Nyirenda’s case was neither political nor exceptional as other judges have stepped aside using the same procedure in the past including Justice Kamwambe, Msosa, Munlo and more recently, Jane Ansah and Anthony Kamanga.
On 16 June 2020, The Guardian carried an article claiming ‘it was an unprecedented assault on judicial independence‘ but that claim was untrue as the procedure of taking leaving pending retirement is commonplace.
On 16 June 2020, Government issued a press statement appealing to all people to desist from politicising the holiday and retirement of the Honourable Chief Justice
On 16 June 2020, some local media outlets carried stories based on a fake employment contract that was purported to be Lloyd Muhara’s – this was a smear campaign targeting the Chief Secretary to Government.
Now demonstrations are being carried out to protest against Justice Nyirenda taking leave pending retirement. One possible explanation could be that;
Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda is seen as an activist on the bench who has been recognised and praised as such for assuming an oppositional stance in passing judgments and ruling in favor of anti-government activists and Opposition stakeholders.
As matters stand, Justice Mzikamanda has that letter as Acting Chief Justice.
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