Zomba is the capital of legal minds – legal minds are molded and nurtured there. Also, those that mentor and groom the new ones are also found there: talk of the likes of Professors Edge Kanyongolo, Ngeyi Kanyongolo, Garton Kamchedzera and many others.
So, basically, if one wants the best of legal minds, Zomba is the place to be. Actually, next time you’re in trouble with the law, think Zomba.
Of course, the irony is that some legal practices that occur in the legal capital of Zomba, the old capital, leave the thought leaders of jurisprudence short of words.
You may recall, in Zomba, after justice was “inaccessible” elsewhere, the former minister of agriculture George Chaponda successfully “accessed” it there at the height of the Kaloswe debacle.
As Malawi went to bed last night, some were smiling at the arrested of business magnet Thomson Mpinganjira over allegations of attempting to bribe 5 high court judges assigned to the presidential elections case. But the smiles were – and for those just knowing, will – turn into frowns and fits of rage. Mpinganjira did not spend the night in a police cell.
In a Tyler Perry movie, the line would be: “Thom spent no night in no Jail. Zomba happened.”
While arrested at Blantyre Police Station awaiting bail, Mpinganjira got released at around mid-night, courtesy of a quash order. So, mathematically speaking, he spent the night in the cell and only got out early in the morning!
Reports suggest his lawyer obtained no bail, but a court order quashing warrant of arrest issued and effected by the Anti-Corruption Bureau on Wednesday. This effectively means the ACB will have to start all over. There wont be court today as anticipated.
The Order by a magistrate at Zomba Magistrate’s Court bears no name of the magistrate but it is signed and was obtained by lawyers from Ritz Law Firm.
Well, we have not been blessed with the intellect to grace the corridors of the great Chancellor College to learn the Law but our intellectual deficiencies will not deprive us the opportunity to see some slack in transparency on the matter. Why not own it?
Even Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Reyneck Matemba is furious at the decision – perhaps he and HRDC leader Timothy Mtambo are equal in rage today. Just the other day, Matemba was under pressure to act. As it turns out, he seem to have had an idea of what kind of battle he was up against!
Matemba has since scoffed at the decision by the magistrate describing it as shocking and smacking of abuse of office.
“This is disgusting. Abuse of court process. It exposes how rotten the judiciary is,” Matemba said.
In a drama that reminded me of the midnight 6 scandal, Matemba got a phone at 00:05 to be served court orders from Zomba Magistrate Court by Mr Chipiliro Mpinganjira, one of the lawyers representing Mpinganjira.
Mind you, Mpinganjira the lawyer is no ordinary person. Other than being a relative to the banker, he is the deputy minister of defense!
At about the same time, the Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa also phoned Matemba about the order which had been served on police. As he got off the line, lawyer (Chipiliro) Mpinganjira followed up with another phone call.
What we understand is that the Zomba court order quashes the earlier warrant of arrest obtained by ACB from Lilongwe Magistrates Court. It however but does not specify the reasons for the decision.
Of course, we have heard it before. It is usually framed thus: “The ACB blatantly and fragrantly as well as contumaciously and contumeliously disobeyed the imprimatur”.
An early morning gossip with a lawyer friend suggests that this move is strange. Even the ACB boss himself says this is a very strange legal practice. Can a lower court quash a decision or order by a court of similar jurisdiction? Isn’t it prudent for a court of higher jurisdiction to make such a decision?
Bail application is a human right. It shouldn’t be difficult to obtain. But to obtain a court order that raises suspicion in the corridors of the legal profession raises the question. Would I, a mere secondary dropout from Katsekaminga CDSS in Dedza with nothing of note to my name be able to knock at a judicial officers’ door to seek such relief?
Well, freedom has a price. But the price shouldn’t come in a manner that seem to tarnish the image of the judiciary. As a wanna be marriage counselor, I put it to you all would be midnight bail or court relief seekers, that bail or quash orders should not be sought to the disadvantage of any magistrate’s spouse. Bail or quash order should not violet conjugal rights. Bail or quash order should be transparent.
At least when done after ours, let the reasons be known. When the courts are seen as failing to administer justice, people take things into their own hands and chaos ensue. An explanation is certainly necessary. Being related to the judiciary, such an explanation would have to come from the Chief Justice, who happens to be an interested party to the case at hand.