Satire: Callistagate in court – Part I

Callista Mutharika and Bright Mkasa v The State (Criminal Appeal No. 2003 of 2011)

The State v Webster Thom (Criminal Appeal No. 2004 of 2011)

IN THE NYASALAND SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL

www.nyasatimes.com

NSCA CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2003 OF 2011

(Being Nyasaland High Court Civil Cause No. 2477 of 2011)

Indexed as: Callistagate

BETWEEN:

Callista Mutharika and Bright Mkasa ………APPELLANTS

AND

The State………….RESPONDENT

and

The State…………………………APPELANT

AND

Webster Thom………………..RESPONDENT

BEFORE:

The Honourable Chief Justice Bob Nswala, JA

The Honourable Justice Wise One, JA

The Honourable Justice Demented Bingu-Laden, JA

Bright Mkasa SC; acting as Counsel for self and the other co-appellant

Namoyo, Sprinter and Malaviforreal; Counsel for the Respondent in the second appeal

To hell with Matsotsi and Co; Counsel for the State

Mphache wa Bingu, Official Interpreter/Recorder

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual; the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.” Karl Kraus.

JUDGMENT

The Honourable Chief Justice

These are appeals against the judgment of the Nyasaland High Court delivered on 18th October, 2011. This court will dispense with both appeals will simultaneously.

Callista Mutharika

We will begin with the first appeal. In this appeal, the first appellant (CM) is the legally wedded wife of the president of Nyasaland and the second appellant (BM) is a public servant in the capacity of Chief Secretary to the Government in the Office of the President and Cabinet.

In December 2010, BM, acting through the Public Service Management, placed CM on the government payroll as a “National Coordinator for Safe Motherhood and Early Childhood Development”; the appointment being backdated to May 1, 2010.

CM went through neither a competitive selection process nor any due process of recruitment as per the regulations of the Public Service Commission. Neither has she to date been required to perform any duty beyond what other first ladies before her had done happily, with grace and gratis.

Yet she received and continues to receive payments from government in the amount of some MK1,138,000.00 per month. The government also provides her with benefits in the form of two government vehicles, chauffeur-driven.

Her husband (WT) by virtue of his opposition is the overall in charge of the Office of President and Cabinet. He issues directives to BM, the Chief Secretary, and has the authority to direct, suspend and generally supervise, the work done by BM.

WT was aware that his wife had been awarded an irregular contract (Exhibit No 1 – Contract Ref No. HRM/PRU/16) and further, that she is drawing a hefty salary, backdated (Exhibit No 2 – Contract Ref No. PSM/LC/1361/4) and yet is not doing anything exceptional or beyond what that other first ladies had done before her; unless there is something she does within the confines of their bedroom which this court has not been told.

WT is also aware that first ladies in Nyasaland do not get paid for charitable activities; and that Nyasaland has been reeling under severe economic hardship since the period which she was hired.

Despite pleas from other quarters to terminate the lop-sided contract, CM has remained on the government payroll without working. WT also knows that the weird contract, unlike his marriage, is not viewed favourably by his employers, the people of Nyasaland who are languishing in poverty.

WT and CM have therefore been charged with two counts of fraud; and WT and BM; charged with breaching the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) of 2004. CM and BM have duly been convicted on all the charges following a trial in the lower court.  They are now appealing against that judgement.

The lower court has however acquitted WT on the grounds of Section 91 of the Republican Constitution – which gives WT immunity. The State is appealing against this decision on two grounds:

1.     “Commodum ex injuria sua nemo habere debet.” i.e. No one should have an advantage from his own wrong and;

2.     “Qui sentit commodum sentire debet et onus.” i.e. “He who receives the advantage (of the law) ought also to suffer the burden (of the same law).

To be continued….

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