Opponents of the declared 21-day lockdown have every reason to smile following a five-day new lease of life injected into the injunction after the High Court in Lilongwe yesterday reserved its ruling on the matter to Wednesday.
Last Friday, a day before the lockdown was to come into effect, two citizens—Esther Kathumba and Monica Chang’anamuno—the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and Church and Society Programme of the Livingstonia Synod obtained a seven-day stay order stopping government from effecting the shutdown.
High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda granted the injunction.
However, yesterday’s hearing was snubbed by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, who on Thursday withdrew the application to challenge the injunction which was meant for the court to hear on whether interlocutory orders should be maintained or discharged.
But lawyers for the claimants told the court that the conduct by the AG, not to avail himself in court, was unprofessional and showed disrespect to the court
One of the lawyers, Sullivan Kagundu, told the court that Kaphale was served with all necessary documents to appear in court and, therefore, pleaded with the court that the State should bear costs of the case.
When contacted for comment, Kaphale maintained that the reasons for not going to court remain the same as the State is not contesting or vacating the injunction.
Among others, the lawyer argued that it is just to sustain the injunction as right of Malawians are being infringed upon according Section 4 of the Republican Constitution.
Kagundu also submitted that the powers of Minister of Health have to be checked in invoking order on the lockdown.
The lawyers further argued that the court should scrutinise government laid down measures to contain Covid-19 if the rules are applicable to Malawi’s situation.