Interdicted Blantyre principal resident magistrate Mzondi Mvula, who was acquitted by the High Court in May last year on corruption charges, has sued Malawi government for failing to reinstate him.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), according to a source familiar with the matter, stopped Mvula from returning to work after his acquittal as it wanted to seek a legal opinion from the Attorney General (AG).
According to the source, the commission sought the AG’s opinion, arguing that there was an appeal pending in the Supreme Court of Appeal by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) against Mvula’s acquittal.
The source said the commission would take the AG’s advice on whether or not to reinstate Mvula.
But Mvula, irked by the conduct of his employers, sued the JSC and the AG.
AG Anthony Kamanga told Nation Online on Monday he is aware of the lawsuit as he has been briefed on the matter.
However, in sharp contrast with the source, Kamanga said his office is waiting for instructions from the JSC.
Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court acting registrar Mike Tembo said the JSC was handling the matter, but confirmed the decision not to allow Mvula resume his work after the acquittal.
Tembo disclosed that the ACB appeal case is set for hearing in the Supreme Court of Appeal this January 14.
A Blantyre-based lawyer, who opted for anonymity, expressed shock at the JSC’s decision not to allow Mvula’s reinstatement after the acquittal.
Said the lawyer: “Irrespective of the pending appeal, he [Mvula] was supposed to be reinstated immediately. In any case, why is the Judiciary failing to have confidence in its own decision [made by the High Court]?”
Another lawyer said a pending appeal matter could not be the basis for not reinstating an employee because the earlier court’s decision remains valid.
Argued the lawyer: “Fruits of a completed litigation are supposed to be enjoyed immediately a judgement is entered. Not all the appeals are made in good faith. I am not saying this is the case with the ACB, but for argument’s sake, why should one continue to be punished further if an appeal was made just to save one’s face after miserably losing a case? The Judiciary should be the last to be involved in this.”
Mvula was, alongside two others, last May acquitted by High Court Judge Geoffrey Mwase after the ACB failed to prove that he solicited a K5 million (about $15 000 at current exchange rates) bribe from a businessperson, Ramesh Patel.
The bureau placed six charges against Mvula and businesspersons Rashid Gaffar and Kondi Msungama, but the judge said the evidence before the court did not prove any wrong-doing against the three suspects.