The High Court in Lilongwe has ruled that former President Peter Mutharika and f former Chief Secretary to Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Lloyd Muhara should pay from their pockets K69.5 million legal costs incurred in a case the two were found guilty of forcing Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda go on retirement.
The two were found of wrongdoing for sending Chief Justice Nyirenda and Justice of Appeal Edward Twea on forced leave pending retirement.
Both Mutharika and Muhara were dragged to court over the matter by Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Association of Magistrates in Malawi and Malawi Law Society (MLS).
Mutharika and Muhara have been ordered to pay K26 million to HRDC and Magistrates Association as first and second applicants respectively, while the third applicant Malawi Law Society is to receive K43 million.
Private practice lawyer Khumbo Bonzoe Soko says the High Court order is a great decision for accountability of those who hold powers of state.
Soko—who represented HRDC—says the ruling sends a message that impunity and arrogance have a cost.
“For a very long-time public functionaries have behaved as if they are above the law and scrutiny.
“Safe in the knowledge that the public will pick up the tab for redressing harm, ironically caused to the public itself. This will begin to drive home the truth that there is no longer any safety in that belief.”
In his ruling, justice Charles Mkandawire pointed out that Mutharika and Muhara had acted “defiantly, were unreasonable, were not prudent, acted outside their Constitutional mandate and very wanting.”