A Constitutional Court will now hear a case in which some individuals including Prophet David Mbewe and civil society organisations (CSOs) sought a High Court injunction to block government plan to impose 21-days national lockdown to tackle the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has certified the case as a constitutional matter after High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda decided to refer the case to the Constitutional Court because the issues raised by the petitioners required an interpretation of the constitution.
The judge ordered that until the Constitutional Court makes its ruling, the lockdown cannot be enforced.
According to the Chife Justice in a notice dated April 30 20200, the matters in the case comply with Section 9 (2) of the Courts Act which stipuaktes that matters relating to or requiring interpretation of the Constitution shall be heard and disposed of by or before not less than three judges.
“Reference Number of 2020 being Judicial Review Case 22 of 2020, before Honourable Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda sitting at Lilongwe.
“The proceedings registered as Judicial Review Cause Numbeer 22 of 2020 hereto attached and matters raised therein contained are hereby certified as having complied with Section 9 (2) of the Act,” reads Chief Justice’s certification.
On 15 April, the government announced a 21-day lockdown, which was due to start three days later but campaigners complained that the government did this without providing help for those in need.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) went to court to challenge the government on the issue and the courts blocked the lockdown.
On Friday 17 April, a day before the lockdown was due to start, a court injunction stopped it until government had put the necessary socio-economic protection measures in place.
The opposition is worried that President Peter Mutharika is going to use the pandemic to delay the fresh presidential elections due before July 4, and keep himself in power.
The country’s estranged vice-president Saulos Chilima and former president Joyce Banda have h accused government of manipulating the Covid-19 crisis to avoid the polls.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :