The Judiciary has played down fears that the appointment of Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s ally and his lead lawyer Dr Chikosa Silungwe —who was his lead lawyer in the presidential election nullification case that gifted Tonse Alliance the presidencyas the new Attorney General (AG), will influence the K9 billion legal fees claim case, in which he is an interested party.
High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba said the arbitration date for the claim is yet to be set but has dismissed any possible fears of possible compromise.
Patemba said the matter will be handled in court in line with set rules and that there will be no out of court settlement.
“We are bound by the directions of the court that the matter be handled by the court, hence, we cannot depart from this,” said Patemba in quotes reported The Nation newspaper on Wednesday.
Petitioners in the annulled presidential election case billed Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) close to K9 billion as legal fees, a burden on the taxpayer.
Lawyers for President Lazarus Chakwera, who was the second petitioner in the presidential election case, billed MEC K6.2 billion.
While lawyers for first petitioner Chilima asked MEC to pay them K2.7 billion.
MEC will also have to pay lawyers for Chakwera and Chilima for costs after losing the appeal case in the Supreme Court.
Chakwera’s legal team had eight lawyers in ConCourt while Chilima’s had four lawyers.
The costs cover, among other things, the period the lawyers spent preparing for the case, court attendance, care and conduct, instruction fee, disbursement and taxation costs. The are charges are per hour. A minimum hourly rate for a senior counsel is K60 000, for a lawyer with not less than 10 years it is K40 000, and for lawyers with less than 10 years at the bar, it is K30 000.
Private-practice laywer John Gift Mwakhwawa said Silungwe – populary known as A Mtanga in social circles – is a legal practitioners, who cannot flout procedures “for he has high integrity.
A governance analyst Makhumbo Munthali, suggested that it is high time public officers who demonstrate incompetence in court cases should be personally liable for the legal costs.
He said such a punishment would act as a deterrent against possible abuse of taxpayers’ money by partisan officers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :