The legal tussle over the ban of packaging alcohol in plastic sachets has taken a new twist with civil society group, Citizen for Justice (CFJ), joining a High Court case over the same.
The CSO has joined the case in support of government after the Malawi Bureau Standards (MBS) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism were sued by some alcohol manufacturers over a ban stopping the distilling of alcohol sachets.
CFJ, in an application to the High Court, wants the court to penalise government through the bureau and the manufacturers for failing to adhere to an earlier ban on production of alcohol sachets.
According to civil case cause no.3 of 2016, the group has joined the case as an interested party.
The court documents identify Reddys Beverages Ltd, Quality Industries Ltd, Vrushadri Spirits Ltd as other parties to the case who earlier sued government.
An affidavit filed by CFJ lawyers says the matter emanates from the disagreement over the interpretation of an order dated 19th June 2015 in a case involving the state (MBS and Minister of Local government) vs Polypack and Arkay Plastics Industry Limited.
“The Malawi Bureau of Standard 210:1990 was never made to protect business persons but rather consumers and indeed the matter under dispute herein does only have consequences on the present parties as consumers of the said products are left out and have no input,” argues the lawyers.
In an interview, CFJ executive director Reinford Mwangonde said the alcohol manufacturers have been let scot-free despite adverse effects of their products.
“CFJ believes that no one is a above the law and hence the law has to be applied to the letter. Again, the selling of alcohol in plastic bottles has made it widely available , leading to people consuming more alcohol which has serious social damage,” said Mwangonde.
The matter is due to come for hearing at the High Court Commercial Division at a date to be fixed. n