Namibia’s watchdog Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is in a great deal of trouble: a major bribery and fraud case, begun in 2009, appears to be imploding. Ten years after the scandal first broke that a member of the Public Service Commission, guardian of ethical conduct in the civil service, had been arrested and charged with two others in connection with massive corruption, the High Court has dealt what might be a crippling blow to the prosecution. Judge Christie Liebenberg has found that because the ACC did not follow correct procedures its summonses issued to several banks were invalid. All the evidence against the accused from the banks was thus unlawfully obtained and inadmissible in court. Though an appeal has since been noted, the prospects of a successful prosecution seem increasingly bleak at this stage, particularly since this is not the first time the courts have knocked out evidence due to be heard in the trial on the grounds that it was improperly obtained.
As election fever hots up in Malawi, a high court judge has reminded political parties of something many would rather forget: that under certain circumstances the judiciary is obliged to hear and decide party disputes. It could not be denied that courts had jurisdiction over ‘political disputes’ raising issues of a judicial nature, the judge said. And, where appropriate, for example if a party breached its own constitution or acted arbitrarily, judges had to “do their duty” and hear such cases. The reminder came in a case involving contested primaries for the Malawi Congress Party.
A provincial magistrate has come under fire from two judges of the high court in Zimbabwe for “conducting himself as a loose cannon” and for not telling the truth to an accused about what the judges had ordered in their review of the original trial court sentence. The magistrate first imposed a hopelessly lenient sentence on a bus driver whose negligence directly caused the death of six people and then misrepresented to the accused the high court’s order on review. The judges said the magistrate’s behaviour was “mind boggling”, that he had been “untruthful”, had “taken leave of his senses” and “embarked on a frolic of his own”. They also ordered that their judgment be brought to the attention of the chief magistrate who was to ensure that the conduct of the magistrate concerned “is not repeated”.