Politics at play as Joyce Banda awards Phoya, Kasambara Senior Council status
President Joyce Banda has given Justice Minister and Attorney General Ralph Kasambara, and Minister of Lands and Housing Henry Phoya the status of Senior Counsel (SC).
She has also conferred the Senior Counsel status on High Court judges Edward Twea and Robert Chinangwa.
Other people awarded are Gertrude Lynn Hiwa and veteran lawyer Bazuka Mhango.
But while congratulating the recipients of the honour, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president John Gift Mwakhwawa described the elevation as political, saying it has left out equally deserving lawyers in private practice.
In a press statement released on Monday, September 3, 2012, signed by Chief Secretary to the government Bright Msaka, the appointment of the lawyers for Senior Counsel status is with effect from August 13, 2012.
Msaka said President Banda made the elevation in exercise of the powers conferred upon her by Section 89(1)(c) of the Constitution "to confer and honour the status of Senior Counsel".
But reacting to the elevation yesterday, Mwakhwawa observed that the list comprised only lawyers in the government yet there are more in private practice deserving the same.
"We feel we have a number of lawyers who deserve to be honoured but we appreciate that it is a highly political process so much that some of private practice lawyers may not find favour.
"That list comprises lawyers who are in government and one we at least know that he belongs to the People's Party," said Mwankhwawa, adding those outside the government should also be considered.
He said for a lawyer to qualify for this coveted honour, he or she needs to practise law for 15 years, must have contributed to the development of law in Malawi and should be of high integrity.
Regarding benefits attached to this status, Mwakhwawa said the legal fee is higher and a Senior Counsel is in a way an advisor to the President.
Kasambara has just gone unopposed as director of legal affairs for the ruling People's Party at the party's recent convention where his only contender Mhango, who has also been honoured, withdrew at the eleventh hour.
Phoya, too, went unopposed to become Kasambara's first deputy at the same convention.
Hiwa is a law commissioner. Kasambara could not give his reaction to the appointment when contacted yesterday as he said he was in a meeting.
Phoya could not be reached on his mobile phone yesterday.