High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda has dismissed with costs an application for permission to move for judicial review of the government’s plan to introduce mandatory Covid-19 vaccination in some sectors.
When the court sat yesterday to rule on the application, Nyirenda threw out the application on the basis that the applicants do not have sufficient interest, they sued wrong parties and there was suppression of material facts.
Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (Cdedi) and journalist Mundango Nyirenda dragged the Ministry of Health, Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General (AG) to court to challenge the government’s announcement to introduce mandatory vaccination for people in public service and other stakeholders, including journalists.
The two were also challenging a decision to bar people that have not been vaccinated from accessing public institutions.
Speaking in an interview, lawyer for the applicants Oscar Taulo said there is room to take the matter to the Supreme Court, which can grant permission for judicial review. He said he will have to consult his clients on the way forward.
“The court has dismissed the application for judicial review on the basis that the court feels the applicants do lack sufficient interest to pursue the matter, but also that the parties that have been sued have wrongly been sued.
The court has tried to justify why those people should not have been sued.
“Of course, the applicants have got remedies. If the High Court has refused an application for judicial review, they can still apply to the Supreme Court on the basis that this was not done. There have been precedents where the High Court denies the leave and upon going to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court can grant leave and the matter can come again although in most cases it is another judge that can pursue.
“As of now we have to analyse the whole judgement and sit down with clients and decide whether to move forward,” he said.
AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said the law demands that a judicial review be made against a public body or a public officer who made that decision, but the applicants failed to show the court the decision was either made by a public body or a public officer.
He added that there is no policy in Malawi supporting mandatory vaccination what was announced was just an intention.
He said one cannot sue based on an intention.
“As of now, we do not have a policy on mandatory vaccination. For that to be effective there has to be a process. What was announced was just an intention, so you cannot sue based on an intention,” Chakaka Nyirenda said. Government earlier announced plans to embark on mandatory Covid-19 vaccination on January 1 this year for some sectors as a way of scaling up Covid-19 vaccine uptake.
However, the announcement was criticised by some members of the public and some rights organisations, who said mandatory vaccination would be a violation of human rights