Former president Peter Mutharika and former chief secretary to the government Lloyd Muhara are set to challenge a court order that compelled them to personally pay K69.5 million legal fees for interfering in the functions of the Judiciary.
In an interview on Monday, lawyer Mwayi Banda, who is representing Mutharika in the matter, said their legal team is working on the court record for the appeal.
He said the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal has already granted them leave to appeal and that once the court record is finalised, the matter will be ready for hearing.
Mutharika and Muhara want the Supreme Court to review the High Court decision that ordered them to personally pay costs, arguing that the decision they made to send Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and now retired Justice of Appeal Edward Twea on leave pending retirement was made in an official capacity; hence, it is the Office of the President that should be liable.
Banda said: “We are very interested in the ruling to have the two personally pay the costs and not the money that they paid.”
In March this year, the High Court faulted Mutharika and Muhara for writing Nyirenda and Twea to go on leave pending retirement.
Mutharika and Muhara have since paid K69.5 million to Malawi Law Society, Association of Magistrates in Malawi and Human Rights Defenders Coalition who challenged their decision on the basis that it threatened judicial independence.
Mutharika’s decision coincided with his public protest against the Judiciary after a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court nullified his May 21 2019 victory and ordered a fresh election which he lost. A seven-judge Supreme Court panel upheld the Constitutional Court decision.
In a separate interview yesterday, MLS lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa said there were still some technical stages before the hearing can start.
“Of course we can say we are waiting for the appeal, but there are still some issues to be handled,” he said.
But Mwafulirwa confirmed that the parties already agreed on the list of documents to form a court record.
In communicating the decision to send the two senior justices on leave pending retirement, Mutharika claimed that they had accumulated more leave days than the period they were expected to retire.
Twea only retired mid this year while Nyirenda is due to retire in December this year.