Spotlight on the Guardians of the Gatekeepers: An Assessment of the Judicial Service Commission of Malawi
Authors Mwiza Jo Nkhata
Affiliations: Associate Professor of Law, University of Malawi and Research Fellow, Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State
Source: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, The, Volume 51 Issue 1, p. 66 – 96
The judiciary is commonly regarded as the gatekeeper of democracy and constitutionalism. In Malawi, the work of the judiciary must be appreciated closely with the powers and functions of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). While precise connections have yet to be fully unravelled, it is clear that the JSC or any other body, however named, that manages appointments and discipline of judges, can influence the quality of a judiciary. By focussing on the JSC, the article demonstrates that the JSC has remained dormant, especially in terms of elaborating on the framework governing its operations. The article focuses specifically on the composition and legal status of the JSC; the record of the JSC in maintaining discipline among judicial officers; the accountability of the JSC in its operations and the role of the JSC in the appointment of judges and the maintenance of judicial independence. It is the article’s conclusion that these aspects of the work of the JSC are in dire need of reform. Building on a comparative expose, the article recommends that legislation should be adopted to clarify the duties and operations of the JSC; that there should be enhanced transparency and accountability in the operations of the JSC; that greater administrative support be rendered to the JSC; and that the composition of the JSC be altered to increase its size and diversity.