The Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Rezin Mzikamanda has sustained the bankruptcy order on Mzimba Hora legislator the Reverend Christopher Ngwira.
Ngwira, a former deputy Cabinet minister in former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration, was declared bankrupt in June this year after allegedly failing to pay $75 222.06 (about K55 million) to Tata Zambia (Malawi Branch) for four pick-up trucks he bought in 2013.
However, the High Court discharged the order after he demonstrated ability to service the contested debt.
Lawyers for judgment creditor Tata Zambia Limited (Malawi) filed an application to the Supreme Court challenging the discharge order.
Making his ruling on Friday, Justice Mzikamanda observed that the judgment debt should have been cleared long before now, certainly long before the bankruptcy order was issued on January 1 2018.
“The record shows that at earlier point, sheriffs had gone to try and execute on the judgment debtor but they returned with a report that they had found no assets belonging to the judgment debtor on which they could execute,” reads part of the ruling.
It adds that “the point must be made that while a stay order is in place, the bankruptcy order also in place, the law on bankruptcy will take its course, with the official receiver carrying out the statutory duties. The matter will not stand still in so far as the bankruptcy status is concerned and professed properties can be dealt with by the official receiver in accordance with the law to the satisfaction of the in this matter.”
Justice Mzikamanda granted the application for stay of execution of the order that discharges the bankruptcy order pending the determination of the appeal, with the applicants getting the costs.
Ngwira through his lawyer Wapona Kitta appealed the earlier High Court ruling challenging the entire discharge, including the process it was come by
This case attracted the attention of some MPs mainly Lilongwe South West legislator Lewis Chakwantha who asked why the Speaker of Parliament is not acting on the issue.
Chakwantha raised the point during the recent November meeting of Parliament.
According to Section 63 (e) of the Constitution, a seat of an MP shall be vacant “if any circumstances arise that, if he or she were not a member of the National Assembly, would cause that member to be disqualified for election under this Constitution or any other Act of Parliament.
Section 51 (1d) of the Constitution also reads that “a person shall not be qualified to be nominated or elected as an MP “unless that person is an undischarged bankrupt, having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in the Republic”.
In an interview with the local media, Chancellor College constitutional lawyer Edge Kanyongolo interpreted the cited sections as meaning an MP loses the seat if something happens that if it had happened before elections one would have been disqualified.
He said: “For example, if the law says a person who is of unsound mind does not qualify to be an MP, and an MP becomes of unsound mind in the course of his tenure, the law says the seat must be declared vacant.”
Ngwira, whose political future hang by the thread, has just won the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) primary election Mzimba Hora after his lone contender, Henry Mumba, withdrew from the race.
In the 2009 General Elections, Ngwira won the Mzimba Hora parliamentary seat on Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket, but joined People’s Party (PP)after Bingu’s death in 2012. He was later fired in PP after advising the party to replace its leader, Joyce Banda with her then vice-president Khumbo Kachali when the party’s leader was in self-imposed exile. Ngwira , who retained the parliamentary seat in 2014 Tripartite Elections, rejoined DPP in June 2017.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :