Malawi Government has filed a defence against a K274 billion compensation claim from business mogul Leston Mulli and his enterprises for alleged loss of business following a 2012 order by the State to deny them government contracts.
In a statement of defence dated October 11 2018, the Attorney General’s Chamber wants the court to dismiss the application for lack of basis.
The Attorney General argues that contrary to the claimant’s claims, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs on August 22 2014 revoked the said order to government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to stop sidelining them from business transactions.
Reads in part the defence: “The defendant [Attorney General] refers to paragraphs 2, 3, 6 and 7 of the claimant’s [Mulli] statement of case and denies that the defendant is a tortfeaser in the proceedings, as the claimant alleged cause of action arose from the alleged letter dated September 5 2012 by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Attorney General, offices held by an individual as a public officer, who wrote the alleged letter in the alleged public misfeasance.”
In the claim, Leston Mulli trading as Zao Marketing Agencies is the first claimant with Mulli Brothers Limited as second claimant, Sunrise Pharmaceuticals Limited being third claimant, the yet to roll-out mobile phone network operator Celcom Limited as fourth claimant and National Bus Company and Chombe Foods Limited as fifth and sixth claimants.
The claimants contend that the order by then minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara saw MDAs stopping to trade with them. They add that the order also froze payments for previous contracts.
In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala authenticated the statement of defence and that they have since been filed with the High Court registry in Blantyre.
Tamando Chokotho, a lawyer from the legal firm representing Mulli and his companies, expressed readiness for the case, but refused to give more details saying they would not want to try the matter in the media.
He said: “The matter is currently in court. We will wait for the court to set a date. We already submitted our arguments, therefore, we will wait for the case to commence.”
In the case, Mulli and five of his companies have filed documents outlining purported losses they suffered during the period of the business ban, including a ministerial order.
The present case comes weeks after Mulli, Sunrise Pharmaceuticals Limited and Chombe Foods Limited on October 2 2018 obtained a court order gagging Vice-President Saulos Chilima, Mulanje West legislator Patricia Kaliati, Blantyre Misesa ward councillor Louis Ngalande, Blantyre City East legislator Noel Masangwi and United Transformation Movement (UTM) members from making statements connecting Mulli and his businesses with a multi-billion compensation claim against the Attorney General.