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Chakwera, Chilima challenged on MK7bn electoral legal fees award…Its judicial looting

Malawians voted out DPP for better nation

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera and his deputy Saulos Chilima have been taken to task to justify on MK7 billion electoral legal fees claims.

The duo was awarded the money following 2019 presidential election case victory that also took them into leadership.

But the legal fees awarding has face backlash from some quarters of the society including the grouping under the banner, “Concerned Citizens”.

In a press statement released on August 21, 2020 and available to The Maravi post the grouping is demanding for justice and accountability on the MK7 billion legal fees describing it as “Judicial looting”.

“The MK7 billion award in legal fees to Dr. Chilima and Dr. Chakwera (referred to as 1st Petitioner and 2nd Petitioner) respectively is not just reflecting on bad leadership, it is also a sign of corrupt government which is stealing tax-payers money through unjustifiable means.

“To be specific, the whole deal seems to be very suspicious and it reads like “wachiona ndani”.The beneficiaries of this looting are the ones in leadership. Dr. Chakwera is the President and Dr. Chilima the Vice, while the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General were also part of the legal team in the case,” reads part of the statement signed by its Chairperson Phillip Kamangirah.

The statement adds, “In justifying our dissatisfaction on the proposed MK7 Billion to a self -acclaimed Servant Leadership of the Tonse Alliance under the leadership of Dr. Chakwera: Let this impunity stop, Let this looting stop, Let this Court Gate stop.

“Account for this claim or else forget about this shameless pure theft. We shall stand to protect our money from being stolen through judicial looting on an industrial scale”.

However, Chakwera’s Executive Assistant Sean Kampondeni justified the legal fees award saying it was worthy it.

Below is the full statement:

DEMAND FOR JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY ON THE MK7 BILLION “JUDICIAL LOOTING”

There comes a time when mortality must take the initiative to reflect on its conduct. For too long, Africa has been a scar on the conscious of humanity. We cannot afford to be living an illusionary life.

The time for reflection is now, in the interest of the common man, in the interest of the government and indeed for the wellbeing of future generations that should find the world we live in today in a better place than we found it in.

Our decisions today must not only be in the professional interest of our needs but also the sustainability of generations to come.

As Concerned Citizens, we blatantly believe that professionals are best suited to lead in making decisions that are rational.

Professionalism would lose its salt if it estranges itself from the social contract it has with the people through demands that are ridiculous, disgraceful and implausible beyond the understanding of the common man that it serves.

Further beyond, professionalism demands accountability and indeed at this moment we are underpinning the need for accountability in the legal profession.

“This is not justice”

The MK7 billion award in legal fees to Dr. Chilima and Dr. Chakwera (referred to as 1st Petitioner and 2nd Petitioner) respectively is not just reflecting on bad leadership, it is also a sign of corrupt government which is stealing tax-payers money through unjustifiable means.

To be specific, the whole deal seems to be very suspicious and it reads like “wachiona ndani”.

The beneficiaries of this looting are the ones in leadership. Dr. Chakwera is
the President and Dr. Chilima the Vice, while the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General were also part of the legal team in the case.

Surprisingly, the same Minister of Justice and the Attorney General are the ones to authorize this payment. Is this not a ploy to defraud government through this judicial looting?

We are aware that government already spent about MK254, 000, 000 on the same case at High Court and another MK120, 000,000 in the Supreme Court.

We as Concerned Citizens can hardly understanding the mathematics that derived at such a figure within a space of months under the common denominator of legal fees.

Our understanding is that the legal team of the two parties comprised of less than 20 learned colleagues.

Indeed per the guidance on legal fees as stipulated in the Taxation Bill within the judiciary which, among many other great aspects, details how much a lawyer should be paid. In simple terms legal counsels have to be paid as
follows:

Legal Counsels with less than 10 years’ experience are paid MK30 000 per hour

Legal Counsels that h been in practice above 10 years are paid MK40 000 per hour

Senior Counsels are paid K55 000 per hour. In the light of the provisions noted in the Taxation Bill, humanity doubts how could, within a space of less than a year, accumulated hours of less than 20 lawyers balloon to MK7 billion.

This in all fairness is outrageous and people may not be that highly wrong to be thinking and labeling that such an act is merely ‘a judicial looting on an industrial scale.’

We look at the figure in the light of how this explains that indeed accessing justice would then remain the preserve of the elite. Can a common man be well represented in a court of law and expect to survive the choking legal fees?

Is it indeed sensible that in one of the poorest economies on earth, a third world country, our learned colleagues have the luxury of charging first world professional fees?

As citizens we have a stake in the affairs of this country and we will unstoppably weigh in with our voice on state and non- state actors whenever we feel that some elements seem not to resonate with the development path that this country is travelling on.

Manifestly, we demand that our learned colleagues that had the mathematical computation of coming up with the K7 billion legal fee – the record breaking fee in the country – be accountable and produce a charge sheet that explains in detail all elements that bring up this ominous and obscene figure.

No profession is beyond human scrutiny and we believe without any iota of doubt that the legal profession which is at the heart of ensuring that justice and the rule of law are adhered to, will, in the interest of economic justice, come up in the open and be accountable to the people of the country.

The resources they have to be paid from are public resources hence no need for clandestine billing that falls short of accountability before the very same public.

We call upon the Malawi Law Society to ensure that the legal profession is not put in disrepute through outrageous, inflated and unjustifiable legal fees.

The legal profession has since time immemorial be reputable and respected and such ideals need not be watered down with legal fees which none can hardly understand and appreciate.

What Malawi are we billing? What professionalism are we inculcating in generations to come? What Malawi shall we live behind in the years to come? Wisdom says it all, if your success is for you alone then it is not success.

True success is for everybody. Let outrageous legal fees fall. Let stealthy billing for services delivery fall. Let justice be reached by all through reasonable fees.

As long as legal counsels charge professional fees that are beyond the rich of the citizens then the profession will cease to serve the people it ought to.

It is imperative that we also clarify that this matter be de-politicized and that politics be a vehicle for developing our motherland and seeing to it that our dreams of a better life are well safeguarded and supported.

Representing political parties and personalities should not be a highway to fees that only hide beneath a spirit of self-enrichment.

Let political decisions made be in the light of the finances of the country. Let legal fees charged be reasonable and in line with the taxation bill.

We have one Malawi for us all and its resources are for us all. It makes no sense that professional lead in the looting masquerading as professional delivery of services.

In justifying our dissatisfaction on the proposed MK7 Billion to a self -acclaimed Servant Leadership of the Tonse Alliance under the leadership of Dr. Chakwera: Let this impunity stop, Let this looting stop, Let this Court Gate stop.

Account for this claim or else forget about this shameless pure theft. We shall stand to protect our money from being stolen through judicial looting on an industrial scale.

In conclusion

We call upon the Anti- Corruption Bureau to investigate this matter and get the root cause of such an obscene and ridiculous payment in the name of legal fees when in real sense, this is not justice.

It is wachiona ndani. We all have the duty to promote transparency and accountability and therefore Dr. Chilima and Dr. Chakwera must lead by example as servant leaders.

We further appeal to all religious bodies to help us in this fight for justice. The injustice has been generated by the judiciary and we doubt if we can depend on the judiciary to deliver justice.
Signed;
Philip Kamangirah
The statement has been endorsed by Concerned Citizens of Malawi
Cc: All Media Houses
All Religious Bodies
All Heads Diplomatic Missions
Anti- Corruption Bureau

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