Attorney General Charles Mhango on Friday asked the High Court in Blantyre to dismiss an application for judicial review that Transglobe Export Limited is pursuing after it was left out from participating in Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp).
The court earlier in October granted Transglobe leave to apply for judicial review.
But Mhango, objecting to judicial review which Transglobe wants, told the court there was no need for the judicial review because there were other administrative remedies which Transglobe did not apply after the company was not given a contract to supply fertiliser.
The AG argued that the law does not necessarily deny anyone who is aggrieved the right to complain, adding that there are administrative processes available in the Public Procurement Act.
“Once a person is aggrieved by any decision taken by the procurement entity, that person is supposed to approach the head of that procurement entity [in writing],” Mhango said.
He said if the grievance is not addressed, the complainant is supposed to notify director of the procurement, adding the director assembles a three-member team to review the complaint.
The AG said it is only when the matter has not been resolved at that level that it can be taken to court for judicial review, arguing Transglobe did not place any grievance to the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP).
He argued that the application for the judicial review, which Transglobe sought in October, was wrong in law and in principle and needed to be set aside.
Lead lawyer for Transglobe, Modecai Msisha, told the court that respondents [that include Ministry of Agriculture] confirmed a contract was awarded to Transglobe, but the company was only waiting clearance from other State agencies, including the ‘No Objection’ from ODPP.
Commenting on an issue raised by the State earlier that by the time Transglobe received a ‘No Objection’ nod from ODPP, the 90-day period under which a contract would have been signed had expired, Msisha said State agencies [Ministry of Agriculture and ODPP] knew about the timeframes because documents were signed by them and would have made sure to act on issues within the specified timeframes.
He said the bid was accepted and Transglobe qualified, but was only waiting for clearance from the [Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Attorney General and ODPP] which finally came.
The clearance from the ACB was based on a matter which the bureau is pursuing against a director at Transglobe regarding the maize import issue from Zambia which led to the sacking of former Agriculture Minister George Chaponda.
The lawyer argued the matter qualifies for judicial review and asked the court to allow the matter go for judicial review.
Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda reserved his ruling on a day to be communicated.
Earlier, the court allowed Fisp to proceed after Transglobe offered to put aside a stay order it obtained earlier, that halted the programme.
The court was on Friday set to hear Transglobe’s application for continuation of the stay and to hear government’s side application to have the stay order vacated, but Transglobe changed the situation after it voluntarily offered to have the stay vacated.
This meant government is now at liberty to proceed with Fisp activities while the other matter is still running in court.