High Court rules in favour of ESCOM in injunction case filed by Chinese company
The High Court’s Commercial Division in Blantyre has rejected an injunction application which Chinese company, Zhang Di t/a Yangtse made stopping the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) from deducting the firm’s 60% of every new electricity purchase.
Lawyer Chrispin Ngunde of Tamandani & Chimwemwe, which represented the power utility company in the case, has confirmed the determination which Judge Jabbar Alide made on July 20, 2022.
“The application for the injunction was an interlocutory application — meaning it was an application made with the main action. The court still has to decide the main action,” he said.
Zhang Di t/a Yangtse sought the court’s intervention following ESCOM’s decision to reverse unauthorised transfer of electricity to the company’s meters and illegal consumption of electricity totalling K46 million.
The claim follows ESCOM’s decision to reverse unauthorised transfer of electricity to the company’s meters and illegal consumption of 494,128 kilowatts and is recovering the equivalent value of 307,493.86 kilowatts which the company already consumed.
However, Justice Alide dismissed the application for interlocutory injunction on the grounds that the transaction was illegal and that damages are an adequate remedy for the company in that if the refusal to grant the injunction is wrongful and the claimant is successful at trial, the claimant can be adequately compensated for his loss.
He further determined that Zhang Di t/a Yangtse is heavily tainted and an injunction being an equitable remedy, the company does not have clean hands.
Zhang Di t/a Yangtse had sued ESCOM through their lawyer Joseph Kamkwasi of Joe & Max Chambers, claiming, among others, a refund of 801,621.76 kilowatts or its equivalent monetary value.
ESCOM has been on a campaign to recover revenue lost through irregular transfer and buying of electricity units on the parallel market.
Since the appointment of Kamkwamba Kumwenda as Chief Executive Officer, ESCOM has been busting a syndicate which has been defrauding the company of about K60 billion worth of pre-paid meter units since 2018 that were sold on parallel structures to companies and individuals.
In March, Kumwenda indicated that this has been going on since the company migrated to pre-paid meter billing system and preliminary findings exposed some Malawians of Asian origin and their companies, who would not have been buying electricity units from ESCOM for the next five years until they were discovered.—Additional reporting by Duncan MlanjiraFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :