Malawi Government has finally bowed down to legal pressure mounted by ex-members of Parliament who sued against an Executive decision halting their gratuities, Nation on Sunday has learnt.
On Wednesday, the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) ordered the Attorney General and Secretary to Treasury to ensure that the cheques stopped by Deputy Finance Minister Cornelius Mwalwanda are cleared for MPs to access their gratuities.
Speaker of National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda on Friday confirmed that he received communication from Attorney General Anthony Kamanga that the State will not challenge the court ruling.
“I’ve been called by the Attorney General that they have decided to let the process proceed, so the MPs will be paid their gratuities,” said Chimunthu Banda.
This is the last half of the MPs’ gratuity amounting to about K217 million (about $517 000) after the ex-legislators already got the other tranche midway through their term.
According to lawyer for the MPs, Wapona Kita, the State failed to challenge his clients in court because they did not have fuel.
The Accountant General recently issued cheques to nine banks so that the former parliamentarians can get the last half of their gratuities but Mwalwanda stopped payment.
The IRC had scheduled April 16 2014 for an inter-partes hearing for the State to defend itself in the matter before the final decision of the court.
“This morning, as I was driving to the court, another senior State advocate Miss Ivy Mpina called me that she has been delegated by Tisu Makato to address the court. However, she told me that they don’t have fuel and she was not sure how they will make it to the court,” Kita told the court.
“Be that as it may, I pray that the application be heard as it is considering that mishaps at the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General chambers should not affect delivery of justice,” pleaded Kita.
Deputy IRC chairperson Chimwemwe Kamowa ruled in favour of the MPs, ordering that the Attorney General and Secretary to the Treasury should ensure that the cheques are cleared.
In the affidavits sworn by two members of the business committee of the former Parliament, Clement Chiwaya (UDF) and Makala Ngozo (MCP), the MPs alleged that Mwalwanda claimed that government wanted to use the money to tighten security.
But the MPs argue that this “is illegal as the payment of gratuity is an entitlement which [we] have earned and the same has already been provided for in the budget and cannot be deferred for the reason that [our] money is needed to improve security elsewhere.”