Parliamentary committee on legal affairs to summon Judge Manda over Gem filling station ruling

Members of Parliament have on Thursday afternoon adopted a motion which will allow the legal affairs committee of parliament to summon Judge Ken Manda who presided over a Commercial Court case which led to snatching and the consequent sale of Gam Fuels Kanengo Filling Station belonging to a business man Gerson Mkweza.

There was drama in the August House when Member of Parliament from Rumphi East Kamlepo Kalua moved the motion which was earlier shot down by Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara and Leader of the house Richard Chimwendo Banda who described it as a Private Member's Motion which cannot be discussed, a directive which did not go well with the legislators as they kept on pushing for the motion, a development which saw the deliberations being suspended on two occasions.

The centre of controversy, Gam filling station

Moving the motion, Kalua said the move was aimed at bringing sanity to the judiciary which has for a while been treated as gods.

"We do not have problems with judiciary, but the commercial court that handled the matter, and we have some questions that the judge who presided over the case needs to answer.

"Indeed, we have to avoid judicial mafias in this country. The question that we are expecting this judge to give to the house, (a legal committee), is that in justice that is given or mutted against our citizens, is something that as a house we cannot condone, and it is high time that we as Parliament we offer checks and balances to the judiciary," said Kalua.

Kalua added that the judiciary has an attitude that they are above everybody, and they want to get rid of it.

He further said if there would be a charge that is not for Malawians, they will make sure that there should be impeachment.

Kalua: we want to bring sanity to our judiciary system
Seconding the Motion, Mangochi South West MP Shadric Namalomba says Parliament has powers even to impeach the Judge.
Namalomba said people are loosing trust in the country's judiciary as seen from the recent demonstrations against the Courts.
"For the first time we have seen Malawians demonstrating against Judges, this has never happened" said Namalomba.
But Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda said Parliament is overstepping its mandate highlighting that Parliament cannot inquire into the conduct of a Judge, but only the Judicial service commission can look into the conduct of a Judge.

On his part, Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo agreed with leader of the House to refer issue of Judge Ken Manda to the Judicial service commission.

"Public assault on one Judge would be taken as a public assault on the whole judicially, so I agree with Leader of the House that this matter be refered to the Judicial service commission." Said Mvalo.

Mvalo said that power is vested in the judicial service commission, and the independence of judiciary is constitutional, but the constitution has provisions on which institution has powers to discipline the judges or to carry out for proper conduct of their functions.

"Well, it is unfortunate to see that there is an impression that has been created, that some people are taken as beyond criticism, saying they are gods, but the truth of the matter is to get people to know the procedure of how you can still lodge a complaint against a judge, and soon we are coming up with a bill that will simplify the process," said Mvalo.

The service station is under dispute following the decision by the High Court of Malawi to grant Gerson Mkweza a stay order stopping the sale of the filling station which was seized by sheriffs and sold to Simama Group of Companies.

According to reports, Alfred Gangata of Masters Boreholes Drilling Company owed Gam Filling Station K1.5 million worth of fuel. After failing to settle the bill, Geleson Mkweza proceeded to confiscate keys for a borehole drilling machine belonging to Gangata.

After the issue went to court, The High Court ruled that the service station be seized after the owner, Mkweza, is said to have failed to settle K747 million legal fees to Masters Drilling Company for loss of business.

Reports indicate that Gangata has sold the filling station to Simama Group of Companies within the period in question.

If found in the wrong by the legal affairs committee of parliament, Judge Manda will likely be impeached