As the maize scandal case enters inter-party hearing at the Mzuzu Registry of the High Court today, civil society organisations (CSOs) that obtained an injunction restraining Agriculture and Water Development Minister George Chaponda from executing his duties have declared the day ‘Black Tuesday’.
The High Court in Mzuzu last Thursday granted CSOs what some legal experts have termed as an interlocutory injunction restraining Chaponda from executing his duties, until investigations into the alleged fraudulent purchasing of maize from Zambia are concluded.
In the determination, Justice John Chirwa also granted the CSOs their wish for a judicial review of President Peter Mutharika’s decision not to suspend Chaponda amid a probe into the Zambia maize import transaction.
Chaponda, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and Mutharika are first, second and third respondents, respectively in the Civil Cause No. 1 of 2017 at the Mzuzu Registry.
Today, the case goes for inter-party hearing, where the CSOs, through their lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa, will argue to have the injunction sustained, while the State, led by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, will argue to have the injunction vacated.
Speaking in an interview, one of the CSO leaders, Gift Trapence ,called on ‘patriotic Malawians’ to join them in seeking justice on the alleged looting of billions of kwacha meant for procuring maize for the 6.8 million starving citizens.
He said: “This case is not for CSOs, but for all Malawians. The fight against corruption is for all Malawians, that is why we are urging every citizen who can manage to go to the court to do so. Mind you, this is about the right to life, right to food, right to economic activity and right to development.
“If we win this case, we will show the world that we are a people who want to seriously deal with corruption. We will show our strong stand against corruption.”
Coordinating events in Mzuzu is Charles Kajoloweka of the Youth and Society, who said the black attire symbolises the demise of the current administration’s integrity.
Said Kajoloweka: “We have declared the day Black Tuesday; a day patriotic Malawians will openly join civil society groups in seeking justice on the alleged looting of billions of public resources meant for procuring maize for the 6.8 million starving citizens. We call on all Malawians of good will to demonstrate a sense of patriotism by joining us tomorrow as we enter inter-party hearing at Mzuzu High Court.”
In their affidavit, the CSOs, among others, question Mutharika’s decision to appoint into the commission of inquiry on the maize saga some civil servants, whom they argue are subordinates to Chaponda.
The CSOs also query Chaponda’s decision to continue working as a Cabinet minister pending the conclusion of the investigations by a Commission of Inquiry instituted by Mutharika.
They argue: “The decision of third respondent to appoint and constitute a Commission of Inquiry which some of its members, namely Dr. Janet Banda and Mr. Isaac Kaira, are civil servants, therefore, subordinates to the respondents, including the first respondent who has not been suspended contrary to the safeguards of impartiality of commissioners of inquiry as per section 7 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Cap 18:01 of the Laws of Malawi and clear principles of natural justice and constitutionalism.” n