Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Chakwera inaugurates the first Deputy Chief Justice, Lovemore Chikopa, following a constitutional amendment

 

President Lazarus Chakwera has, today, coroneted one of senior judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Lovemore Paul Chikopa, as Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic.

In a colourful event that took place at the magnificent State House formerly known as Kamuzu Palace, the Malawi leader exuded excitement at crowning whom he described as a well-deserving judge for the position.

The event was also historical as Lord Justice Lovemore Chikopa has become the first person in the history of the country to occupy the office of Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ). The DCJ is a newly established office following a notable Constitution Amendment Bill, which among other aspects also contained the controversial 50%+1 re-interpreted law, that President Chakwera assented to in 2021.

Lord Deputy Chief Justice Lovemore Paul Chikopa SC, taking oath of office on 18th April 2024

A statement released this week and signed by the Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Colleen Zamba announced the President’s invocation of section 111(2) of the Constitution which empowers him to appoint judges on the recommendation from the Judicial Service Commission.

Pursuant to the Constitutional provision, the President appointed Justice Chikopa as the Deputy Chief Justice of the Malawi Judiciary following a review of judiciary functional set up that took place in 2021.

“I must thank the Judiciary, under the enlightened guide of my Lord the Chief Justice Mzikamanda, for successfully completing the functional review that resulted in Justice Chikopa’s commendation to me for this appointment,” said the President in his remarks during the inauguration ceremony this morning.

In an internal memo dated April 14 2021 addressed to justices of appeal, High Court judges, registrars, magistrates, researchers and all members of staff, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said the functional review’s objective was to re-organise and strengthen the Judiciary.

The review, which the Chief Justice described as forward-looking, came amid calls from the Malawi Law Society (MLS) to institute measures to discipline or impeach judges that delay cases unnecessarily. The functional review also incorporated the establishment of new sections in the Judiciary.

Below is the excerpt of the full speech delivered by President Chakwera during the inauguration ceremony:

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

This morning we have borne witness to history, for this is no ordinary swearing-in ceremony. It would already be a remarkable occasion were it a ceremony to swear in a Judge of the High Court, but for the man we are honouring today, that distinguished honour is a fait accomplis. Similarly, it would doubtless be a remarkable occasion were it a ceremony to swear in a Justice of the Supreme Court, but for the man we are honouring today, that distinguished honour has been his body of work for no less than 11 years under no less than three Administrations.

Today is a great day because we see the rise of the Lord Justice Lovemore Paul Chikopa to the office of Deputy Chief Justice, becoming the first person in the history of Malawi to hold this position newly established in the Constitution Amendment bill that I signed into law three years ago. I must thank the Judiciary, under the enlightened guide of my Lord the Chief Justice Mzikamanda, for successfully completing the functional review that resulted in Justice Chikopa’s commendation to me for this appointment.

Being somewhat of a student of judicial history, I dare say that you could not have recommended a more worthy candidate for this post. His career as a jurist and expert in matters of jurisprudence is as stellar and distinguished as the luminosity of his mind, the integrity of his character, the gravitas of his disposition, and the incandescence of his patriotism. Not only am I honoured to see him crowned with this well-deserved accolade, but I call on all Malawians to wish him well, to support him, and to accord his office as Deputy Chief Justice all the submission and regard thereto appertaining.

In the past, it has been my practice to offer candidates who are being sworn into office a word of counsel, but I beg your pardon for my restraint from doing so on this occasion. I am so overwhelmed by the presence of all the Justices of the Supreme Court here and impressed by the substance of the man taking up the office of Deputy Chief Justice that it seems to me that a word of counsel from me on this occasion would be an attempt to teach those from whom I have everything to learn. As such, I feel that having discharged my constitutional duty of presiding over this ceremony, congratulations are in order to you my Lord Deputy Chief Justice, and may the name Lovemore Paul Chikopa be forever a fortress and a shield for Malawi in the defence and advancement of justice and may his work never cease to be threat to all enemies of Malawi’s peace.

God bless you and God bless Malawi.

PRESIDENT CHAKWERA DURING INAUGRATION OF DEPUTY CHIEF JUSTICE OATH

 

 

 

 

 

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