Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has asked the High Court of Malawi to dismiss a petition against the proposed mandatory vaccination for Covid-19 because the petitioners lack sufficient interest.
He told the court that the applicant’s documents of incorporation do not show their area of jurisdiction as being promoters of health rights.
Chakaka Nyirenda said this was the reason he submitted that Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (Cdedi) executive director Sylvester Namiwa and freelance journalist Mundango Nyirenda were just “mere busy bodies and trouble makers” who should not be entertained.
He said: “We are dismissing one applicant who is not even an employee of the National Assembly complaining about a decision that was made by the Clerk of Parliament to cover employees of the National Assembly.
“He is just being used as a mercenary against the decision by the Clerk of Parliament relating to Covid-19 vaccination and mandatory test. If anything, the decision at Parliament affects employees; hence, an in-house matter. The aggrieved personnel needed to go to the Industrial Relations Court.”
Namiwa and Nyirenda in December filed an application in the High Court for an interpartes hearing to stop government’s decision to implement mandatory Covid-19 vaccination, especially for frontline staff as announced by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19. Parliament had already announced its decision to only allow vaccinated staff and stakeholders into its precincts from January 1 2022.
But Chakaka Nyirenda told the court that the applicants were also confused because in case of judicial review, one does not sue the AG, but the person who made the decision.
He said for one to take up an issue before the court on behalf of Malawians, they should demonstrate that they have expertise in the area they are moving the courts on. He said the two applicants have no expertise in health.
Chakaka Nyirenda then prayed to the court to dismiss the claimants’s application with costs.
The applicants specifically want to stop the Ministry of Health from implementing the mandatory administration of the Covid-19 vaccine, Parliament demand Covid-19 certificates from its employees to access Parliament premises and private and public institutions should not demand vaccination certificates from employees and customers to access their premises.
In his submission to the court yesterday, the applicants’ lawyer Oscar Taulo argued that the statement from Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda implied that a decision was already made and the claimants were challenging that decision.
He said: “We’ve managed to demonstrate that the applicants have legal standing and sufficient interest to seek effective legal remedy for the government decision, therefore they are not ‘busy bodies’.
“We have demonstrated that a journalist was prevented from entering Parliament premises to cover a committee meeting due to the decision of Parliament on mandatory Covid-19 vaccination and a negative test certificate when one is not vaccinated.”
Taulo said the AG’s argument that the applicants have jumped the gun before government implemented its decision on Covid-19 was invalid because when the minister was making the announcement it meant what remained was implementation.
Presiding Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda has since adjourned the case to a later date.