In a move that has taken Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda and team by surprise, the judicial review on the interdiction of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma returns to court on March 17.
High Court of Malawi Judge Mike Tembo is scheduled to hear the matter which Nyirenda and private practice lawyers that the State hired argue is academic as charges and the interdiction were withdrawn.
But Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Patrick Mpaka, who moved the court for judicial review, said the matter was still alive in court as there are questions whose legality should be determined.
A court notice dated March 7 2023 shows that the MLS will move the court to provide directions on several issues, including order for provision of costs of proceedings.
Reads the order in part: “(i). Directions for the hearing of the application for judicial review; (ii). In the alternative to directions under clause (i) hereof, an order entering judgement and making the declarations and orders sought in the Form 86A for the Claimants and Defedants having failed to enter defence in terms of Order 19 rule 24 of the CPR.”
In a brief interview yesterday, the AG expressed surprise at the move, saying: “Am surprised… The issue is now academic. The lawyers we engaged can provide more details.”
One of the lawyers representing the State, Chancy Gondwe, said the subject matter which was the basis of the judicial review no longer exists, wondering what the court would schedule since the ‘matter was resolved’.
But Mpaka hoped that the judge will provide directions on questions already presented before court on whether they are all academic or not following the withdrawals.
He said what was withdrawn was the application of the State through their lawyers in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal while the case in the High Court remained alive.
Among others, the MLS sought review on the decisions made by Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba to interdict Chizuma, but also police and the magistrates’ court in Lilongwe to issue the summons.
MLS wants the court to review whether such decisions were in line with the country’s Constitution and directions in the Corrupt Practices Act as they provide guidelines on how to treat the director of the ACB.
In a rare lawsuit, MLS took to court police prosecutor Levison Mangani, Lilongwe chief resident magistrate and Zamba, who issued the interdiction order on January 31 2023.
Police arrested Chizuma on December 6 2022 following a complaint filed by former Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni about a viral audio. However, she was first released on police bail hours later before Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo told Parliament she was released unconditionally.