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Absolute power?

14 July 2011

The Nyasa Times in Malawi has reported that President Bingu wa Mutharika has signed into law a bill (Civil Procedure Bill) that would reduce judicial power, namely the power of courts to grant injunctions against the government or its officers. From the article:

Justice Minister Dr George Chaponda says the law states that the court shall not, in any proceedings against the government or a public officer, grant relief by way of an injunction if the application for such relief was made ex-parte.

Why does this matter? Some of the most important recent challenges to government in Malawi have been possible only through court injunctions. For example, the recent order by the Malawi Energy Regulatory Agency that Malawians could not purchase fuel to fill containers (only to fill vehicles) was stopped with a court injunction. Also, the demonstration for academic freedom at Chancellor College in May was made possible at the last minute because of a court injunction.

By taking away the power of the court to check the government, power continues to consolidate in the executive branch.

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