Publication Date



This is a classic case of sour grapes. After failing to secure a favourable decision from the judges, the losing party accused them of prejudice. This happened in the Mwale v Mtonga matter, decided by the Supreme Court of Zambia in 2019. When his appeal failed, Daniel Mwale reacted by accusing that court and the entire judiciary of corruption.

The Mwale v Mtonga dispute brings up a number of themes: perceptions of corruption in the courts, unjustified public attacks against the judiciary, constraints on judges’ ability to respond to those attacks, the airing of corruption allegations in the wrong forum, concerns over the security of land titles in Africa, and the role of contrition and pleas for mercy in sentencing convicted persons. The Supreme Court of Zambia resolved Mwale’s appeal against the High Court judgment impeccably, but it miscarried justice in the proceedings it instituted against Mwale for scandalizing the court, especially after he remorsefully apologized to the court and begged for mercy.