The Supreme Court of Appeal yesterday granted Youth and Society (YAS) an order staying the decision of High Court Judge Jack N’riva to unfreeze Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Pioneer Investment bank accounts linked to the K2.7 billion police food rations deal.
The court also stayed an interlocutory order freezing DPP and Pioneer Investment accounts, pending determination of the inter-partes applications for stay pending appeal.
YAS, through lawyer Bright Theu, obtained the stay order after the High Court earlier yesterday dismissed an order by the Mzuzu-based civil society organisation (CSO) to put aside implementation of a ruling the court made to freezing the DPP and PI bank accounts.
YAS obtained the court order on Monday afternoon at the Supreme Court of Appeal, barely hours after N’riva had dismissed the CSO in the case on the basis that it has no sufficient interest and cannot sue on behalf of Malawians.
Hearing of the stay order was scheduled to take place yesterday at 2pm at the High Court, but instead, N’riva just gave out his ruling to interested parties in the case.
In his ruling earlier yesterday, N’riva pointed out that YAS’s application, made orally to the Supreme Court of Appeal, is not proper unless it was made in writing for the defence to be given notice to respond, bearing in mind that it relates to a final judgment.
The court also said it was not satisfied that there was a good reason or any special circumstances that warranted granting the stay order.
However, later yesterday, the Supreme Court granted YAS a stay order on the matter.
Reads the Supreme Court order: “It is hereby ordered and directed that the decision of the Honourable Nriva J handed down on 20 August 2018 dismissing the claimants’ claims and in respect of which the court below declined an application for stay today 21st August 2018 be and is hereby stayed; and the interlocutory order freezing the first and second defendants’ accounts be and is hereby restored pending determination of the inter-partes application for stay pending appeal.”
The Supreme Court has also directed that the inter partes application for stay pending appeal will be heard on August 28 2018 before Justice Rezine Mzikamanda.
In an interview after the stay order, YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka said his institution will fight to the end until Malawians get the truth and justice on the matter.
“Pushing the caravan of accountability is no longer an option,” he said.
“We obtained the stay order so as to counter the dismissing of the earlier stay order at the High Court in Blantyre. For now, the accounts of both DPP and Pioneer Investments remain unfrozen,” added Kajoloweka.
The High Court started hearing the matter early this month on whether YAS was an interested party in the case.
Lawyers representing DPP and Pioneer, Frank Mbeta and Chancy Gondwe, had argued in court that YAS was out of its jurisdiction as it has no power to sue on behalf Malawians as Section 98 of the Constitution stipulates that it is only the Attorney General (AG) that has such powers.
But on his part, Theu argued that the AG was in a compromised situation as he is a member of the governing DPP and he is also a party in the case.
—Additional reporting by Joseph Mwale, Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor