The High Court in Lilongwe has rejected an application by 10 tobacco growers from Dowa who sought to stop the Tobacco Commission (TC) to operationalise the new Tobacco Industry Act of 2019 pending judicial review.
In their application, the growers also wanted the court to stop the tobacco industry regulator from implementing the Covid-19 prevention measures which, among others, restrict growers from physically attending tobacco sales at the floors.
In her ruling, Judge Ruth Chinangwa felt it could have been unfair to grant the growers an injunction, saying the injury to the economy could have been catastrophic as tobacco is still the country’s mainstay.
She said: “The material facts are that tobacco is a protected crop. All aspects to do with growing, harvesting, transportation, marketing and selling of tobacco are regulated.
“The simple reason to this is that tobacco is the backbone to the Malawi eonomy.”
Chinangwa said disturbing tobacco sales could have a huge impact on all Malawians.
Reacting to the ruling on Monday, TC chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala said this now means the regulator will continue to implement the tobacco law.
He said: “Essentially what the court is saying is that it cannot stop implementation of the law as doing that would be disastrous to the economy.
“As a commission, the court simply says we are mandated to implement the law and all the regulations as they are without being distracted.”
Lawyer for the claimants Paul Maulidi said he was happy with the outcome which has allowed for a leave for judicial review on the matter despite the court not granting them the injunction.
“We are proceeding with the judicial review. The main issue for us is being granted the leave.The injunction was like a baby. So, I am happy with the outcome.”
In May this year, High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda also dismissed with costs an application for an interim mandatory injunction by other farmers.