Thursday, July 18, 2024
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President Chakwera Appoints New High Court Judges; Dr. Kayuni Migrates to Judiciary

Dr. Steven Kayuni, newly appointed High Court Judge


Following recommendations from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), President Lazarus Chakwera has appointed four new High Court Judges, including the prominent appointment of Dr. Steven Kayuni.

The appointments come at a crucial time, as the total number of High Court Judges in Malawi now stands at 47 – still below the established total of 78 mandated by the current judicial framework approved by the government in 2020.

The other new High Court Judges include Madalitso Khoswe Chimwaza (formerly the Chief Residence Magistrate for Lilongwe), Edna Bodole (who previously served as the Deputy Chairperson of the Industrial Relations Court), Kondwani Banda who held the role of Registrar for the Supreme and High Courts of Malawi) and Dr. Steven Kayuni.

Among the new appointees, Dr. Steven Kayuni’s nomination by the JSC and subsequent appointment by the President stands out. Prior to this judicial appointment, Kayuni held esteemed positions, serving as Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Homeland Security and previously as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

While the appointments have been generally well-received, some murmurings have been noted regarding Dr. Kayuni’s selection, stemming from a previous incident involving a conflict with the Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Martha Chizuma. However, a closer examination of Kayuni’s extensive qualifications and track record dispels any doubts about his suitability for the judicial role.

Guiding the appointment on judges in the judiciary, the Constitution distinguishes the process for appointing Chief Justice who is the head of the Judiciary and all other judges. While Chief Justice requires confirmation, by voting, by at least two thirds of members of parliament present for voting [as per section 111(1) of the Constitution], section 111(2) of the Constitution stipulates that “all other judges shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission”.

The Judicial Service Commission itself is an encompassing organ consisting of – the Chief Justice who is the nominal Chairman; the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission; a Justice of Appeal or Judge; a magistrate; and a legal practitioner (According to section 117 of the Constitution).

The Judicial Service Commission have the authority to – among others – nominate persons for judicial office subject to the Constitution. This entails that the Judicial Service Commission can only recommend for appointment as a judge, only such persons that are qualified for the appointment in terms of the Constitution.

Section 112(1) of the Constitution stipulates what qualifies a candidate to be appointed as a Judge. Paragraph (b) of the said section entirely reads as follows: “A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a judge unless that person – is entitled to practise as a legal practitioner or an advocate or a solicitor in such a court and has been entitled so to practise for not less than ten years.

Dr. Kayuni who completed his PhD studies in 2016 at Sussex University in the United Kingdom after obtaining his Master of Laws (LLM) qualification from the University of Malawi in 2010, has been in civil service for many years. He was appointed as Secretary for Homeland Security in March 2024, becoming a Controlling Officer for Homeland Security Ministry and all departments which include Immigration and Citizenship Services Department (ICSD); National Registration Bureau (NRB); Malawi Police Services (MPS); Malawi Prison Services (MPS); and the Refugees Commission (RC).

His appointment as Secretary for the Ministry of Homeland Security superimposed his prevailing role as Chairperson of Principal Secretaries Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, a position he has held since December 2023 with a predominant role involving legal and policy scrutiny by principal secretaries at ministry level.

He has also served as a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Member for the United Nations Africa Institute Crime and Research with his contract based in Kampala, Uganda. He became a Notary Public in Malawi in June 2019. A Notary Public is a legal practitioner who holds a licence to practice and can practice as a commissioner for oaths.

However, not every legal practitioner can practice as a Notary Public in Malawi. Under section 45 of the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act, a legal practitioner who holds a licence to practice the profession of law only qualifies to practice as a notary public if the Chief Justice appoints the legal practitioner and grants him a certificate entitling him to practice as a notary public upon application by the legal practitioner. The legal practitioner must have been in practice for at least seven (7) years as a minimum number of years qualifying one to be a candidate for certification.

Kayuni also worked as an adjunct Law Lecturer at the University of Malawi for a nine months’ period from March 2023 to November 2023 with predominant roles of teaching, pupillage, thesis supervision and research.

He was appointed as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by the Malawi Government (Ministry of Justice) where he worked full time for 2 years and 3 months from November 2020 to January 2023. As DPP, he was responsible for all criminal prosecutions and criminal processes for the Republic of Malawi including legal advisory related to prosecutions by public prosecutors.

Before his appointment as DPP, he has been in the civil service, working as Chief State Advocate under the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs from April 2019 to November 2020. Before becoming a Chief State Advocate, he served as a Senior Deputy Chief State Advocate from September 2017 to April 2019 and as a Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate from Apr 2013 to Sep 2017.

Prior, he worked as Principal State Advocate from April 2010 to Apr 2012 while also working as Legal Intern in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) from January 2011 to Mar 2011 in The Hague, Netherlands. He entered the Malawi Civil Service in around December 2005, serving as a Senior State Advocate under the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs until April 2010 during which he received his first promotion to become the Principal State Advocate. With this background, he has an accumulated total of 19 years as a legal officer in the civil service.

With a wealth of experience spanning nearly two decades in the civil service, including roles as Chief State Advocate, Senior Deputy Chief State Advocate, and Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate, Dr. Kayuni has demonstrated his expertise and commitment to the legal profession and public service. His additional qualifications, such as holding a Doctorate degree, a Master of Laws (LLM), and serving as a Notary Public, further solidify his credentials as a highly competent legal professional.

Dr. Steven Kayuni (former Director of Public Prosecutions) and Martha Chizuma (former Director General of the Anti Corruption Bureau) once traded barbes

The fight between Chizuma and Kayuni can be isolated as personal between the two. One can even postulate that Kayuni’s reporting of the matter to relevant law-enforcement authorities was within his right to protect his hard-earned reputation as a professional which Chizuma’s accusations were capable of destroying. It was only necessary to let Chizuma justify her accusations against Kayuni who reserved the right to safeguard his good reputation as a legal professional.


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