Attorney General ( AG ) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda faces a daunting task to scrutinise, investigate and allow for payment or defend in court compensation claims that have now hit over K2 trillion, way more than Malawi’s 2021/2022 National Budget.
Every day, the AG says, he receives judgements from the courts awarding huge sums of money to claimants and new claims, a good chunk of which are dubious.
“My assessment last time was over K800 billion, but my further assessment is over K2 trillion in compensation claims,” he said.
Nyirenda, speaking in an interview in Mzuzu yesterday, said most of these claims are dubious, as some originate from people that died long time ago, do not exist, are based on dubious contract claims, while others come from court rulings.
The remedies, according to Nyirenda, include commencing criminal proceedings against those who deliberately engage in the malpractice and defend the cases in court.
He said government is considering legislation, as is the case in Kenya, where one individual working as AG cannot enter into a Consent Order beyond a certain amount before being advised by a committee.
Double payment claims are also a major problem, he said.
“We have other claims where people have delayed in settlement, especially our friends in the Asian business community. They deliver late, they are paid, but come back to claim interests, yet it is their fault, and this is the headache I am facing,” he said.
On dubious claims, the AG cited over 2 800 claimants who are suing government and each one is claiming millions of kwacha, but when they investigated, he said they discovered that some people are too young to claim, while others died long time ago.
He lamented: “Some people will fake arrests and situations whereas some people claim that they have got contracts with government with forged documents. Not to sound racist, but our friends from the Asian business community, some had contracts with government, delivered and got paid, but come back and say we have this contract.”
Besides appealing cases, Nyirenda said they will also try to persuade courts to be realistic when awarding damages.
Malawi Law Society President Patrick Mpaka did not respond yesterday, but at the time the claims had hit over K800 billion, he said his body does not condone unprofessionalism among its members, who represent the claimants.
Earlier, Catholic University of Malawi dean of law John-Gift Mwakhwawa said if the claims are fraudulent, they are supposed to be defended.
However, he said people cannot be prevented from suing whoever they want.