The High Court in Mzuzu yesterday set January 31 for ruling on whether to lift the injunction against Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda.
High Court Judge John Chirwa last Thursday granted some civil society organisations (CSOs) an interlocutory injunction restraining Chaponda from executing his duties until investigations into the alleged fraudulent purchase of maize from Zambia is concluded.
Ironically, the Commission of Inquiry which President Peter Mutharika instituted to conduct the probe is supposed to submit its report to the President by January 31 2017, and the CSOs feel they have it their way.
During inter-partes hearing on the case yesterday, Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale said the State wants CSOs—Youth and Society, Church and Society Programme of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) to be struck off the case to leave Charles Kajoloweka as a private citizen.
He also argued for the vacation of the leave for judicial review of Mutharika’s decision not to suspend Chaponda amid a probe into the Zambia maize import transaction.
Kaphale also wants that the AG, who is second respondent in the case to be removed. Chaponda and Mutharika are first and third respondents, respectively.
Said Kaphale after the hearing: “We applied that the leave for judicial review ought to be vacated because we don’t think there is a case fit for further inquiry at a main judicial review hearing. On the CSOs, you know there are Supreme Court judgements that have held that for one to be able to get leave for judicial review, one must have had their interests directly affected.
“There is an individual whose name is before the court, it is Mr. Kajoloweka [Charles] or somebody, whose presence in the court we have not questioned, but for these CSOs, we are saying, not direct interest of theirs have been affected, the rights in trial in this case, belong to individuals, not organisations.”
Lawyers for the CSOs, Victor Gondwe and Wesley Mwafulirwa of John Tennyson and Associates said the decision by the court means the injunction holds good, and that Chaponda remains suspended until January 31.
Gondwe further said they counter-argued in court that the CSOs were very much affected by the issue because of the nature of their job.
“The injunction will still hold good until when the judge decides on the 31st of January 2017. We have also submitted in court that the CSOs are very much affected because of the nature of their job, you know they speak and work on behalf of people. So, we will wait for the ruling,” he said.
Cedep executive director Gift Trapence expressed happiness at progress of the case, further urging Malawians to ensure that Chaponda respects the court order.
“Malawians must make sure that Chaponda respects the order. This issue is not just about us, it is for all Malawians. We are happy that the ruling is on January 31, and at that time, the Commission of Inquiry will have concluded its work,” he said. Judge not happy with SG
A source who attended hearing of the case in the chamber confided in The Nation that Justice John Chirwa told AG Kaphale that he was not happy with Facebook comments made by Solicitor General Janet Banda in relation to the case.
In her post, Banda implied that by granting the CSOs an injunction, the Judiciary was clueless on its powers and functions.
Wrote Banda: “[It is] important to know where executive functions start and end! Where the judicial functions start and end and where legislative functions start and end! Democratic anarchy is rather frustrating to constitutional and administrative lawyers such as some of us.” n