Civil society organisations (CSOs), which obtained an injunction restraining Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda from executing official duties, have said they will file the charges tomorrow.
Chaponda travelled to Germany on official duties which was a violation of the court order, hence the CSOs’ decision to drag him to court for contempt. He sneaked into the country last Wednesday through Chileka International Airport.
The CSOs, through lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa of John Tennyson and Associates, were supposed to file the charge last week, but failed due to unavailability of a judge to hear the matter at the High Court in Mzuzu.
Justice John Chirwa, who granted CSOs an injunction on January 12 restraining Chaponda from executing his duties until completion of a probe into the purchase of maize from Zambia, is based in Blantyre where he is also carrying out other duties.
In an interview yesterday, Mwafulirwa confirmed that they will file the charges tomorrow, the day Justice Chirwa is expected to deliver a ruling on whether to lift the injunction on Chaponda.
He said: “I can confirm that on Tuesday we will be filing the documents at the court. It could be immediately after Justice Chirwa has made a determination on the State’s application to have the injunction lifted.
“You remember that we were allocated Justice Chirwa for the case, but he is based in Blantyre. So, the only date we know that he will be back in Mzuzu is on 31 January and we will take that opportunity to file for contempt of court against the minister.”
One of the CSO leaders, Moses Mkandawire of the Church and Society Programme of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, said in an earlier interview that they were dismayed by Chaponda’s action.
“We expect each and everyone of us to respect the Constitution, to respect court orders. But what sort of a society are we creating if a [minister] chooses to deliberately defy a court order? Is the law just meant for the poor, those being governed and not the authority?
“Remember, the Constitution of Malawi is founded upon underlying principles that include Section 12 that all legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with it solely to serve and protect their interests. And the people stopped him from working, but he has decided otherwise, so on whose authority is he working?” he queried.
Mkandawire also questioned the sort of legacy the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government is creating by “constantly violating the law”.
Meanwhile, a special commission of inquiry on the maize saga has had its dates to conclude the investigation extended by seven days. n