Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander, General Griffin Supuni-Phiri, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, and Raiply Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Oomen, Secretary for Forestry, Patrick Matanda, and Forestry Director, Clement Chilima, have survived a risk of being jailed in a contempt of court charge as there has been an agreement for an out-of-court settlement.
They were dragged to court by members of Viphya Plantation Timber Millers Union for defying an order that was issued on June 23 this year and risked a jail term or have their property seized if they were found guilty og contempt of court.
The court order allowed sime timber millers to continue processing timber in Viphya Plantation despite government declaring a selected closed season for the plantation.
On November 25, the High Court in Mzuzu gave additional 21 days sawing consent to Sophilet Chirwa and eight others in the highly depleted Viphya Plantation to clear remaining tree logs but the order was subsequently followed by a directive to the MDF that called for disregard to such court orders.
Lawyer representing the timber millers, George Kadzipatike, applied for leave to start contempt of court proceeding against Msaka, Supuni-Phiri and other officials following the violation of the court order.
But the the proceedings have been withdrawn, saying the concerned parties have agreed to settle the matter out of court..
“We have discussed with government over the matter and we signed a consent order to resolve the matter outside court,” Kadzipatike told Nyasa Times
In an MDF communication dated November 24, 2016 titled, ‘Operation Teteza Nkhalango’, the MDF instructed its soldiers to remove all illegal loggers from the forest with immediate effect ignoring court injunctions.