Forum for National Development (FND) has accused lawyer Bright Theu of personalizing issues to do with the Lake Malawi Water Supply project.
Weeks ago, Theu-as lawyer for Malawi Law Society (MLS)- lost a case at Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in which his client sought to stop the project on the basis that it by-passed an environmental and social impact assessment.
FND has been forced to comment on the issue after Theu reportedly approached a little-known non governmental organization from Mzuzu headed by one Charles Kajoloweka to resuscitate the case which was thrown out by the supreme court.
Fyson Chodzi of FND wondered why Theu seems to be taking all this personal by failing to let go after he lost the case for MLS.
“The learned lawyer is just being used and has more personal interests in the matter beyond what was his jurisdiction with the Malawi Law Society. After failing to achieve his agenda through MLS he now has dragged an unknown NGO in Mzuzu to play his cards. What is the rationale of a Mzuzu-based organization trying to stop a project primarily meant for the people of Lilongwe and surrounding districts? What they are doing is retrogressive and will only delay the rectification of a problem that will soon cause a complete shutdown of water systems in the Capital City,” FND said.
Chodzi too had no kind words for Theu who he labeled a distractor of development at a time Malawians are in need of good services than never before.
“He is based in Zomba and is conniving with someone from Mzuzu to stop a project that will be a milestone for one of Africa’s fastest growing cities. It is our hope that Mr Theu will respect the Supreme Court’s final determination and leave the case to rest. Lake Malawi Water Supply project is already late as we speak, people of Lilongwe need this as soon as yesterday,” he said.
Similarly, some NGOs that were asked to weigh in their stand on the issue have faulted Theu saying there is nothing like public interest litigation in that matter but prosecution of personal interests by the lawyer involved.
Even the law society has distanced itself from Theu’s recent actions.
While some commentators told this publication that Theu is driven with tribalism as he was quite when serious procurement anomalies took place at northern region water board where amount of $10.2 million was adjusted to $14.3 million due to what was referred to as an “arithmetic error.”
“Theu is driven by tribalism, nothing else. How do you explain his actions to approach an NGO from mzuzu pursuade it to try and disrupt a project taking place in Salima and Lilongwe? It does not make sense,” explained another member of civil society who refused to have her name published.
The civil society organizations have since written Malawi Law Society to discipline the ‘rogue’ lawyer who they say is using the profession to settle personal agenda.
Meanwhile, one of the lawyers for Khato Civils, Chancy Gondwe, in an interview described the action by the Mzuzu-based NGO as laughable and unsustainable and that he will make appropriate responses in Court and not through the media.
The Supreme Court through Judge Lovemore Chikopa faulted both the process through which MLS sought leave for judicial review at the High Court and their arguments on the ESIA. The Court further faulted MLS for failing to understand the nitty-gritties of the contract.
The contract that Khato Civils signed with Lilongwe Water Board is what is known as “Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract” The judge said MLS erred by demanding an Environmental Impact Assessment at a time the project is only in ‘Engineering and Procurement’ stages. He said MLS should have waited up until Construction stage had commenced.
What Theu and other critics of the project do not understand is that the contractor of the project in this case Khato Civils, is responsible for sourcing funds for the project to the tune of $350 million and that the money will be channelled through a special purpose vehicle which was set up and approved by the cabinet.
The mega project will upon completion pump and purify 100,000 cubic metres of water daily from Lake Malawi and transport it through pipes for a stretch of 120 kilometres from Salima to Lilongwe City. Communities around the intake point and along the project’s catchment area will also benefit through portable clean water and other social responsibility interventions by the client, Khato Civils.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :