The Supreme Court of Appeal judge Dustan Mwaungulu yesterday vacated an interim injunction granted to some civil society organisations (CSOs) restraining Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda from performing his duties until a probe into the Zambia maize import deal is concluded.
In his ruling Justice Mwaungulu indicated that in the first place there was no application for an interim injunction as the applicants never prayed for it despite the High Court in Mzuzu proceeding to grant one.
This follows some discrepancies in the order which he observed were inconsistent with what was pleaded for by the CSOs, an action which he said was unprocedural.
But reacting to the ruling, legal counsel for the CSOs Wesley Mwafulirwa said while respecting the court’s decision, the issue that there was no application for an interim injunction was debatable.
He said: “The court’s saying that there was no application for an injunction is not as straight forward as it sounds. There is a whole debate on the issue because Justice Mwaungulu does not believe in the Rules of the Supreme Court which we used to apply for the injunction, but he believes in Civil Procedure Rules.”
However, Mwafulirwa said he believed his clients upheld the rule of law and respected the court’s decision, but was of the view that “most likely we will proceed with the appeal that the Attorney General has already started.”
Asked whether they would proceed to make an application to restore an interim injunction following the court’s observation that there was none, Mwafulirwa said he would wait to hear from his clients.
Lawyer Gift Chimowa who represented the Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale said he was pleased with the court’s determination and would wait from the AG’s office for further direction.
Meanwhile, one of the companies involved in the controversial procurement of maize from Zambia by state-owned Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), Transglobe, yesterday angered the joint Parliamentary committee conducting a public inquiry into the saga after the company’s officials failed to appear before the committee.
The committee has since said it will use its constitutional powers to summon the company’s officials for an extraordinary hearing to be held tomorrow (Sunday) as the committee races to complete its findings.
Chairperson of the joint committee of Parliament investigating the maize procurement saga, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said the company has responded to the invitation of the committee.
Meanwhile, Grace Mijiga Mhango, chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association (GTPA) who played a role in the recruitment of the companies that imported maize from Zambia through Admarc, appeared before the committee yesterday.