Comesa Court gives Malawi Mobile another chance

 

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Court has given privately-owned Malawi Mobile Limited (MML) a second chance in its K98 billion claim against Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra).

In a ruling following an MML appeal against the dismissal of its case over alleged unprocedural termination of its mobile phone operator’s licence, the court, through a fresh panel of seven judges, has ruled that MML should be allowed to amend sections of its earlier arguments which were rejected by the Comesa Court.

Kanyenda: It is self-explanatory

The new panel, chaired by principal judge Qunisile Mabuza, also dismissed Malawi’s position that the Comesa Court—which this time around is sitting in Nairobi, Kenya after previously sitting in Lusaka, Zambia—has no jurisdiction on the matter.

Reads in part the judgement: “In the result, we make the following orders: (a).The respondent’s objection to jurisdiction is dismissed. The FID has jurisdiction to entertain the reference and notice of motion; (b). The respondent’s objection to the council being cited as a party is allowed. MML is hereby ordered to amend its pleadings in respect of the citation of the respondents.”

In an interview from Nairobi yesterday, lawyer representing MML, David Kanyenda, welcomed the ruling, saying it has provided his clients relief.

He described the ruling as self-explanatory.

Attorney General Charles Mhango, whose office is representing Malawi Government in the case, was not immediately available for comment yesterday while Solicitor General Janet Banda said she needed more time to consult lawyers handling the matter before making a comment.

In May this year, MML, which sought to establish a mobile phone network in the country and was issued a 15-year licence on April 19 2002, appealed against a Comesa Court ruling that dismissed its compensation claim.

Macra terminated MML contract over contractual disagreements, leading to a protracted legal battle which at some point saw the High Court of Malawi awarding K55 billion compensation to the company before the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal reversed that ruling.

The Supreme Court’s decision prompted MML to seek redress at the Comesa Court.

Former AG Kalekeni Kaphale, who led the government legal team in the case then, welcomed the earlier ruling that said the cancellation of the contract was not in breach of Comesa Treaty; hence, the court had no jurisdiction on the matter.

MML was registered as a private company under registration number 6375 at the Office of the Registrar of Companies in Blantyre. n

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