The court-initiated mediation talks between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and some civil society organisations over the K14 million public funds which the CSOs want the party to reimburse solicited from parastatals at its fundraising event has failed to take place on Monday.
Lawyer for the CSOs Wesley Mwafulirwa said the talks were scheduled to resume Monday but Blantyre City Council had asked for the postponement due to other engagements.
“They applied to the court to postpone the talks because they have other engagements today. This is normal,” said Mwafulirwa.
He said the court is yet to set another date for the talks.
Zomba-based High Court judge Zione Ntaba observed that the CSOs—Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Youth and Society (YAS), Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and Livingstonia Synod’s Church and Society Programme—had sufficient interest in the matter and that it was within their right to take the case to court.
Ntaba also directed that the matter be taken for mediation to be conducted by judge Redson Kapindu of the High Court of Malawi Zomba District Registry within two months.
Said the judge: “If mediation fails, then the court shall continue with submissions on originating summons on 16th June 2018.”
During a fundraising dinner and dance branded Blue Night at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on July 29 2017 where President Peter Mutharika was the guest of honour, DPP allegedly received about K13.5 million from public institutions, a gesture the CSOs argued amounted to misuse and abuse of public resources.
The DPP collected the funds from Blantyre City Council (BCC), Lilongwe City Council (LCC), Mzuzu City Council (MCC) and Lilongwe Water Board (LWB), among others.
The CSOs sought a declaration of the court that the donations the public institutions made to DPP contravene the doctrine of public trust, the Constitution and the Public Finance Management ACT.
Under Section 178 of the Constitution and Section 23 of the Public Finance Management Act, no single tambala of public funds is supposed to be expended unless such expenditure is authorised by an Appropriation Act or is a statutory expenditure.