Interdicted Blantyre principal resident magistrate Mzonde Mvula and Malawi Government have agreed on an out-of-court settlement in a case where Mvula personally sued the Chief Justice and the Attorney General (AG) for contempt of court.
This means Mvula’s lawsuit against Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo and AG Anthony Kamanga has been withdrawn.
Mvula filed for contempt of court charges against the AG, the Chief Justice and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court of Malawi acting registrar Mike Tembo in their personal capacities for failing to reinstate and pay him his salary in arrears.
The interdicted magistrate expected reinstatement after the High Court in Blantyre last May acquitted him and two others in a corruption case the trio was answering.
Following their failure to reinstate him within 21 days by December 25 last year, as was ordered by the Industrial Relations Court (IRC), Mvula sued the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which is chaired by the Chief Justice. He also sued AG Kamanga and Tembo.
Mvula’s lawyer, Lusungu Gondwe, said in an interview on Sunday on Friday he met the AG, who represented the Chief Justice and the registrar, and resolved to have the matter settled out of court.
In a separate interview, Kamanga confirmed meeting Mvula’s lawyer in Blantyre in respect of the contempt of court proceedings and mutually agreed to have the matter withdrawn.
‘Chief Justice can’t be in contempt of court’
He said government’s position is that there was no contempt of court in the first place and that the issue did not arise.
Said Kamanga: “Our view is that there was not contempt. The Chief Justice is not involved. It is a matter for the Judicial Service Commission. The Chief Justice cannot be in contempt of court. He is not the commission.
“The matter of the contempt proceedings was misconceived. The order did not compel the Chief Justice, the registrar or me to do anything. There is a difference between the Chief Justice and the commission which he chairs. Let us not personalise matters.”
The JSC did not reinstate Mvula and pay him his salary arrears as was ordered by the IRC on the basis that there was a pending appeal by the ACB.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) appeal against the High Court ruling that acquitted Mvula, businesspersons Rashid Gaffar and Kondi Msungama would continue in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
In the case he was acquitted, Mvula was accused of soliciting a K5 million (about $15 151) bribe from a businessperson, Ramesh Patel. But the judge said the evidence before the court did not prove any wrong doing against the three suspects.
The IRC had noted in its ruling that Mvula’s criminal proceedings had nothing to do with his employment. The court further argued the JSC and the AG did not challenge Mvula’s assertions that the criminal proceedings were concluded.