The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal has set December 1 2017 to hear an application in which Youth and Society (YAS) wants to join or substitute the Malawi Law Society (MLS) as an applicant in the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project case.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has also applied to the Supreme Court supporting YAS and both applications will be heard on December 1.
In the matter, MLS wanted the High Court to review a decision by Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) to award Khato Civils Limited a contract for the project before an environmental impact assessment was conducted.
Besides lawyer Bright Theu, YAS and CHRR have also roped in John-Gift Mwakhwawa and Modecai Mshisha SC as their legal representatives.
The applications follow the October ruling in which Supreme Court Judge Lovemore Chikopa dismissed the case, stating that all parties in the matter before the High Court ceased to exist upon the expiry or lapsing of time MLS should have filed substantive summons for leave for judicial review.
But in an earlier application to the Supreme Court, YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka, through Theu, argues that since Chikopa’s decision, MLS has not taken any steps to further prosecute the matter.
CHRR also says it had the legitimate expectation and confidence that the MLS would vigilantly pursue the matter to a logical and substantive decision.
In a sworn statement in support of the motion by YAS, CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo argues that it was considered not necessary at the time to join the case as it was in apparent able hands of MLS.
Mtambo argues that MLS’ silence since Chikopa’s ruling on October 20 2017 implies that the Law Society has abandoned the case or no longer wishes to pursue it in the public interest which initially motivated its case.
In an earlier interview, MLS president Khumbo Soko said the Law Society was not aware of the development, but said there was no problem with YAS taking it up.
The case was commenced in the High Court, Zomba Registry, which granted permission to the MLS to apply for judicial review.
After the High Court granted permission to apply for judicial review, the respondents applied to set aside the permission.
At the same time, MLS applied for an interlocutory injunction to restrain LWB and Khato Civils from proceeding with any work on the project pending determination of the judicial review.
Khato Civils is a construction and engineering company headquartered in South Africa and owned by billionaire Simbi Phiri, a Malawian by parentage.
In May this year, Khato Holdings Limited unveiled to the media machinery for the construction of the pipeline from Lake Malawi in Salima to Lilongwe to ease water problems in Lilongwe, disclosing that $13 million (K9.8 billion) had already been invested. n