A High Court judge has refused to lift an order suspending Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda to pave way for smooth investigations on the maizegate scandal.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale in an inter-party hearing on Tuesday asked Justice John Chirwa of Mzuzu High Court to lift the injunction a private individual and three civil society organisations obtained last Thursday asking the Court to suspend Chaponda.
The Attorney General also asked court that the CSOs that include Mzuzu based Youth and Society and Church and Society Programme and the Lilongwe based Center for Development of People should not be party to the proceeding in the court but rather individuals.
Justice Chirwa said he will make his determination on January 31 and that the injunction obtained by CSOs remain in force, meaning Chaponda is still suspended.
His judgement will come on the days results of the Commission of Inquiry into the maizegate will be released.
The maizegate scandal is a suspected corruption elecment where Agricultural Development and Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC) reportedly bought maize at K26 billion from the Zambian company and it is believed that Malawi could have saved about K9.5 billion if it had bought the grain directly from the Zambian government.
Their action by CSOs follows Mutharika’s appointment of a commission of inquiry into the allegationsof corruption and malpractices into the Zambian maize procurement saga.
Activist Charles Kajoloweka and the others argue that failure by Mutharika to fire Chaponda will compromise the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry on maizegate as a line Cabinet minister, he may interfere with the investigations.
Justice Chirwa granted the injunction last Thursday, effectively suspending Chaponda from cabinet and allowing a judicial review as the CSOs argue that Mutharika erred in his choice of commission of inquiry.
Chaponda faces contempt of court charges and possible arrest if he does not duly comply with the High Court order.
The judicial review application filed on Wednesday afternoon under civil cause number 01 of 2017, lists the respondents as: Chaponda as first respondent, the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale as second respondent and President Peter Mutharika as third respondent.
While the applicants are: Charles Kajoloweka as first applicant, Youth and Society as second, CCAP Synod of Livingstonia (Church and Society Programme) as third and Centre for Development of People as fourth.
The Attorney General also wants to be struck off the case because none of his decisions, actions or inactions are under inquiry in the intended judicial review application.
Meanwhile, law professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa Danwood Chirwa applauded Justice Chirwa for doing his job, saying if a President fails to uphold the constitution he swore to defend, it is the duty of the courts to remind him of his constitutional responsibilities.
“The so-called commission of inquiry is a facade aimed at shielding the suspects from accountability. There is no need for an expensive commission filled by political cadres to investigate this criminal issue whose facts are easily ascertainable.
“There are qualified investigators within the law enforcement agencies who can get to the bottom of this within days, not even weeks,” Chirwa said.
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