The High Court of Malawi yesterday dismissed judicial review proceedings which former president Peter Mutharika’s spokesperson Shadric Namalomba started against Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa.
In his ruling, Zomba-based High Court Judge Mzonde Mvula also discharged an injunction granted to Namalomba that restrained Nankhumwa, who is Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) vice-president (South), from making certain decisions in Parliament.
The judge also faulted Namalomba for dragging Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara into the case, pointing out that the action violated Section 53 (5) and (6) of the Constitution and that it also contravened parliamentary privileges as the Speaker was served with a court order while Parliament was in progress.
Mvula said: “The defendant [Nankhumwa] and Speaker, in particular, are no longer bound by the court order that was taken out by the claimant [Namalomba]. This finding has been made possible because the court has heard both sides to the matter.
“Sustaining the action which was initiated, and stayed the decisions of the Leader of Opposition, and served on Attorney General despite Parliament being in the 49th session, Fifth Meeting, has potential to violate parliamentary privilege.”
Namalomba took Nankhumwa to court in February this year following certain changes the Leader of Opposition made in Parliament including appointment of a shadow Cabinet without prior consultation of the party, and changing the seating arrangement.
Following the change in the seating arrangement on the opposition benches, resulted in Namalomba, who is DPP’s Mangochi South West legislator, moving from his original seat to seat number 99 and then later to 100.
But in his 27-page ruling, Mvula said Namalomba’s complaints against Nankhumwa relate to intraparty politics. The judge said Namalomba should identify a political solution and not a judicial one as intimated through the judicial review proceedings.
He said Namalomba should have engaged Nankhumwa in political discourse within Parliament and not through court proceedings over matters which are not justiciable.
In the ruling, Mvula also highlighted that the conduct of the Leader of Opposition in appointing a shadow Cabinet, including having a decision on the seating plan is political which has to be resolved in political discourse.
While Namalomba could not be reached for comment, Nankhumwa said briefly: “We serve a living God, that is my reaction.”
The fighting in DPP came to light in August 2020 when the party expelled secretary general Greselder Jeffrey, parliamentarians Yusuf Nthenda and Jappie Mhango as well as Nankhumwa. The four were reinstated by court last month.