The Judiciary is scheduled to meet to draw a time frame for the conclusion of prosecution of Cashgate cases, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has confirmed.
Nyirenda, speaking at the Judiciary complex in Lilongwe after receiving a donation of 19 sets of computers from the Irish Rule of Law International, said the meeting would also provide a forum to give direction on the issue of plea bargaining which has come up in the trials.
Dates for the planned meetings are yet to be set, but the sessions will be coming against the background of efforts by the Law Commission, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs working towards a legal instrument to regulate the practice.
Nyirenda also said the Judiciary is currently working on case management systems to ensure speedy trials in all cases.
However, he said judges and other judicial officers will also meet to specifically discuss ways to expedite the Cashgate trials amid public concerns of delays to conclude several cases.
Nyirenda said the challenge of low funding, previously attributed for delays to expedite Cashgate trials, has been addressed following discussions with Treasury and the Executive arm.
He said the onus was now on the Judiciary to come up with mechanisms to ensure all cases are concluded within a specific time frame.
The Chief Justice also said pre-bargaining discussions will be held with support from Irish Rule of Law International. He backed pre-bargain laws to help in bringing in speedy conclusions to several cases.
Nyirenda said he is yet to issue practice directions to judges on how to tackle pre-bargaining as earlier expected as he was cognisant of the ongoing process to bring new laws to govern the practice.
He, however, warned that failure to address public misunderstandings of pre-bargaining could erode public trust in the Judiciary; hence, emphasised on proper civic education for the public as much as training for judicial officers.
On the donation of the computers to the Judiciary, Irish Rule of Law programme manager Emma Weld-Moore said the gesture was part of its long standing relationship with the Judiciary.
Cashgate—the plunder of public funds from Capital Hill through payments for goods or services not delivered or inflated invoices—was exposed in 2013 when millions of kwacha were found in vehicles and in a house of a junior civil servant.
The shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo at the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013 led to massive revelations on how politicians, businesspersons and civil servants connived to siphon billions out of Treasury.
To date, seven people, including a former principal secretary, have been found guilty and sentenced.