Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) on Friday breathed a sigh of relief after the High Court in Blantyre granted them an injunction restraining the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) from conducting protests at airports and borders.
In his ruling, after hearing the matter on Thursday, Judge Jack N’riva observed that MRA, who were later joined in the case by Airport Development Limited (ADL) and National Oil Company Limited (Nocma), had valid reasons for objecting to demonstrations in the said areas.
The judge agreed with MRA that proceeding with the demonstrations at airports and borders would be fatal and jeopardise the country’s economy as they would disrupt MRA operations of collecting revenue.
N’riva also observed that organisers of the planned demonstrations at airports and borders have not explained how they intend to ensure that their protests are peaceful considering that similar events have not been peaceful.
During an inter-partes hearing on Thursday, lawyers for HRDC raised four points in their preliminary objections to an application for an injunction filed by commissioner general of MRA.
HRDC lawyer, William Chiwaya, statedthat the MRA Commissioner General did not have capacity to stop demonstrations at airport or borders as the said places did not fall under his control.
He further said the claimants’ conduct amounted to abuse of court in that there was already another case commenced by the Attorney General (AG) at High Court Lilongwe Registry, whose application was denied by Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda.
In an interview after the ruling, one of MRA lawyers Felix Tambulasi said they were delighted with the court’s outcome.
“As we argued in court on Friday, the importance of borders and airports for any country cannot be overemphasised. The court has looked at the interest of Malawians in terms of economy,” he said.
While Chiwaya declined to comment on court’s determination, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said while they were sad, they respect the ruling and would abide by it.
“We are engaging with our lawyers so that we appeal the decision at the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, we are announcing new two million nationwide demonstrations in all the districts from Wednesday to Friday next week,” said Trapence.