Mzuzu (Daniel Mudika, Malawi NewsNow) — Agriculture and Water Development Minister Dr George Chaponda remains suspended from his duties until the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Zambia maize saga has finished its investigations, the High Court judgement says after rebuffing an application by the State to vacate an injunction which some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
The CSOs recently obtained an injunction restraining Chaponda from discharging his duties as Minister of Agriculture to pave way for a commission of inquiry instituted by President Peter Mutharika to look how Maize was procured from Zambia.
The Attorney General Mr Kalakeni Kaphale moved swiftly to argue in court praying that the injunction be vacated as the CSOs had no arguable case.
But Judge John Chirwa ruled that the CSOs have sufficient interest to litigate the matter, such that they can commence court proceedings in the case.
The Court’s ruling dismissed Kaphale’s arguments to vacate the injunction and has in fact extended the validity of the injunction until the commission of inquiry led by Retired Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa delivers its report to President Mutharika expected on February 9 2017.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved its ruling to a later date in which the CSOs have filed a contempt of court case against defiant minister Chaponda. Chaponda went to Germany on official duties as Agriculture Minister in clear contravention of the court order.
Chaponda risks being fined or being imprisoned if found in contempt of court.
The CSOs are Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod of CCAP as well a Youth and Society (YAS).
Their lawyer Mr Wesley Mwafulirwa of John Tennyson and Associates said Justice Chirwa’s determination on the matter was victory for both democracy and constitutionalism.
He said the CSO’s won the case with costs.
“The court has ordered the government side to meet all the costs that the CSOs have incurred since the initial application of the injunction order,” Mwafulirwa said.
Executive director of the Church and Society programme of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, Mr Moses Mkandawire said the ruling was “victory for democracy and constitutionalism.’
“This is another landmark decision by the judge. Sustaining the injunction for us is critical,” he said.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale intends to appeal.