Government has demanded K15 million from Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka as costs for a case in which the latter sued President Peter Mutharika to fire his then Cabinet minister George Chaponda in connection with a controversial maize import deal in 2017.
The demand follows the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal’s determination on February 13 2019 reversing a High Court order that sought to compel President Peter Mutharika to fire Chaponda.
Delivering the judgement on behalf of the Supreme Court of Appeal sitting in Lilongwe, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said there was no judicial provision giving the Judiciary the mandate to interfere in decisions of the presidency regarding appointment and removal of Cabinet members.
He said Cabinet appointments were purely political and that the ministers can be fired or hired at the discretion of the President.
Said Nyirenda: “It is not courts’ business to go as far as suggesting who should be appointed, removed or suspended from the office of minister. We cannot force a Cabinet minister to resign from office as that is a political decision for an individual minister to make where the individual minister is embroiled in a scandal.”
The court also ordered Mzuzu-based Kajoloweka, the first applicant in the initial case, to personally bear all costs incurred during the case.
In the demand letter from the office of the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale dated February 25 2019, to Messrs John Tennyson and Associates that represented the YAS and other civil society organisations (CSOs), government wants K15 million as costs for the case.
It reads: “Following the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment and the subsequent order that your client, Mr Charles Kajoloweka should bear the costs of the proceedings herein both in the Supreme Court of Appeal as well as the court below, we write to demand the sum of MK15 000 000 as party and party costs of the proceedings.”
Kaphale, who has himself signed the letter, has given Kajoloweka 14 days to respond on how he will meet the demand.
Kajoloweka confirmed receiving the letter, but said he will be responding in due course.
The civil appeal case number five of 2017 was between George Chaponda (first appellant) and the President (second appellant) versus Kajoloweka (first respondent), YAS (second respondent), CCAP Livingstonia Synod (third respondent) and Centre for the Development of People.