Malawi High Court rebuffs DPP on Leader of Opposition

The High court in Blantyre has dismissed the application for judicial review by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on its quest to take over the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament.

DPP through its lawyer, Kelekeni Kaphale applied to the high court for judicial review to determine if the party is rightful heir to the post of Leader of Opposition in Parliament currently held by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, John Tembo.

And in his ruling, Justice Anaclete Chipeta, on Friday afternoon, upheld arguments raised by the Attorney General (AG) that DPP as a political party has no legal capacity to sue or be sued, and discharged the party’s application for judicial review.

Justice Chipeta faulted DPP for failing to disclose to the court its nature before securing a judicial review on matter, thus, before the AG ), representing the State in the case, challenged it.

Mutharika: Asked the court to join the case

DPP in its earlier arguments, defended itself that based on Section 15 of the Constitution was legally allowed to commence legal proceeding.

But the judge challenged that based on political parties Registration Act, DPP has no legal capacity to sue or be sued unless one of its members initiates the legal proceedings on its behalf.

“The respondent is, in this matter, right. The applicant cannot commence any legal proceedings under its name as a political party because it has no legal capacity to do so. I see merit in respondent’s application to discharge the leave for judicial review… I hereby discharge the leave for judicial review with the applicant meeting all legal cost,” ruled Justice Chipeta.

DPP filed for judicial review on the Speaker of Parliament, Chimunthu Banda’s decision not recognise its application to take over the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament having a majority representation in the House.

Meanwhile, DPP has left two options to either file new application with the court for judicial review on the issue of continue pursuing the matter under the application by its interim leader, Peter Mutharika who asked the court to join the dismissed case as one of the applicants.

MCP president, John Tembo is currently Leader of Opposition in Parliament after the party emerged second in 2009 General Elections and having more Member of Parliament (MPs) than any other opposition party.

But with the coming of DPP to the opposition side following the death of its leader, late President, Bingu wa Mutharika in April this year complicate the issue since DPP has more MPs in the House than MCP.

DPP relinquished its position as ruling party after Bingu’s death and was taken over by President Joyce Banda’s party, Peoples Party (PP).

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