The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and four parastatal institutions appeal bid for the court to stay a High Court judgement in the infamous Blue Night case against some civil society organisations (CSOs).
The appeal followed a ruling by Zomba-based High Court judge Zione Ntaba whereCSOs demanded a refund of donations from the party.
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 parastatals include Lilongwe Water Board (LWB), Lilongwe City Council (LCC), Blantyre Water Board (BWB) and signed a consent withdrawing its K3.5 million pledge to the party by Mzuzu City Council (MCC).
Justice Dunstain Mwaungulu sitting as a single judge of the appeal in Blantyre dismissed DPP for their prayer to set aside Judge Ntaba’s ruling as well for a leave to appeal the case in the Supreme Court.
Ntaba had dismissed DPP’s plea to discharge the case and that the CSOs had sufficient interest in the matter and were within their right to take the case to court.
The CSOs represented by Wesley Mwafulirwa are 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.
They sought a declaration of the court that the donations 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.
Commentators said time has come to demand greater accountability, saying “every public money should be spent for the intended purpose.”