Through Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe, government wants to amend a notice of appeal in a case where businessperson Leston Mulli was awarded K3 billion compensation for the damage to his businesses during demonstrations on July 20 2011.
Both Judiciary spokesperson Agnes Patemba—now appointed judge of the High Court of Malawi—and Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala confirmed yesterday that chief government legal adviser appeared before Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Frank Kapanda in Blantyre on Wednesday to argue the matter.
Masanjala said: “The matter was heard yesterday [Wednesday], but has been adjourned to a date to be communicated after the court heard arguments from both sides.”
But lawyers representing Mulli and his Mulli Brothers Limited (MBL) Holdings are objecting to the application, saying it is in bad faith as Silungwe’s predecessors—Charles Mhango and Kalekeni Kaphale—already settled the matter and paid their client.
In an interview yesterday, Mulli’s lawyer Tamando Chokotho said the application by Silungwe was irregular.
He said: “We argued against it [the application] on the basis that even though it was made as an application to amend the notice of appeal, it was actually an application to appeal out of time as the Attorney General now wants to appeal against the decision of the registrar [of the High Court and Supreme Court] made in October 2014, six years after the decision.”
Normally, matters are supposed to be appealed within six weeks after a court decision.
The K3 billion payout to Mulli, who is widely associated with the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Muhlako wa Alhomwe cultural grouping, has been a bone of contention in recent years.
On April 13 2018, the DPP administration authorised K3 billion payment to Sunrise Pharmaceuticals and Chombe Foods Limited, companies under MBL Holdings as a “compromise”.
In separate interviews with The Nation in July 2019, two Cabinet ministers at the time—Bright Msaka (Justice and Constitutional Affairs) and Mark Botomani (Information)—stammered to explain why government was enforcing liability for demonstration damages on organisers when Capital Hill paid Mulli-owned businesses for destructions suffered during the 2011 protests using the same laws ignored in the politically-connected businessperson’s claim.
Mulli was paid K3 billion public funds in 2018 after Mhango signed a Release Agreement on behalf of government authorising the payment.
The payment was made during the administration of DPP under Peter Mutharika who lost the court-ordered fresh presidential election on June 23 2020 to President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party who led a nine-political party Tonse Alliance.