AG joins Salima/Lilongwe water pipeline project injunction case

The High Court sitting in Blantyre has accepted Attorney General to join as 4th defendant the stay of order of injunction which was applied for by Forum for National Development Limited stopping government from borrowing K105 billion from National Bank of Malawi and NBS Bank to finance the Salima/Lilongwe water pipeline project to be undertaken by Khato Civils Plc.

Forum for National Development Limited, a company limited by guarantee, applied for the injunction against the two banks and Khato Civils — owned by South Africa-based Simbi Phiri and in turn — as the case was to be pre-heard whether it was a commercial case of not — the Attorney General then filed an ex-parte application to set aside the injunction to which the court gave direction that the matter should come inter parties.

The Attorney General went on to file an application to be added as a party which was granted and proceeded to apply for discharge of the case while at the same time, the two banks also applied that they should be discharged as parties to the injunction that was filed last Friday, May 12.

Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda

Judge Manda observed that following the inclusion of the Attorney General, his initial presentation as to whether this was a commercial matter or not was taken over by events in that the parties would not want the court to deal with substantive issues — which is whether Forum for National Development’s injunction should be maintained or discharged.

The Judge determined that since the money will be disbursed by the two banks, he was of the view that “it is imperative that [Forum for National Development] should respond as to why he decided to make them parties to the matter”, which Parliament authorized through a Bill to borrow on behalf of Khato Civils.

He added that the matter “does raise quite pertinent issues (of purported irregularity and illegality) and I do not think we should gloss over them for purposes of expediency”.

“This is especially considering that these loans will have to be paid back using public funds. At the same time, I would want to also agree that we need to deal with this matter as soon as possible.

“In this regard, I would grant the adjournment to Tuesday, 30th May, 2023 at 10:30am,” he ruled, adding that this was surely ample time for Forum for National Development to respond and serve and for the defendants to file their replies.

The Judge also asked the Attorney General that his request to file an application for Stay of the Order of Injunction should be formally applied for, whose date of hearing shall be set once filed.

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