Courts in Malawi were closed on Monday as judicial services workers began striking over working conditions and pay. According to an activist group, pay hikes of 40% and 60% were approved by parliament in 2006 and 2009 respectively but have not been implemented. Malawi is facing increasing economic pressure as the IMF holds up a green light on resumption of donor funding. Donors withdrew funds last year. Fuel and medication shortages are wide-spread in the country. Malawi is also bracing for food shortages after poor harvests and exports of maize were recently suspended.
All this is significant and important context but it shouldn't distract from the fact that, if this lobby group is to be believed, the cause of the judicial workers' complaints is a failure on the part of government to implement a decision of parliament. If this is true, it suggests a fundamental problem with the way in which democracy is functioning in Malawi.