Court fines CSO leader K21m

The Supreme Court of Appeal has ordered Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka to pay K21 million as costs for a case in which he sued President Peter Mutharika to fire his then Cabinet minister George Chaponda in connection with a controversial 2017 maize import deal.

This is a rise from the K15 million which government had initially demanded from Kajoloweka through Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale in a letter dated February 25 2019.

Kajoloweka: The decision is repressive

However, Kajoloweka responded on May 3 2019 through lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa of Kawelo Lawyers that he could only pay K500 000.

Said Mwafulirwa in the response: “In the said letter, you demanded K15 million from our client, Mr Charles Kajoloweka as party and party costs of the proceedings.We propose that our client pays K500 000 as party and party costs.

“ Since YAS is a non-profit making non-governmental organisation, it is impractical for our client to pay such a sum of money.”

Dissatisfied with the response, which was Kaphale filed for taxation with the Tax Master, where he was seeking over K60 million.demanded within 14 days,

But after certifying taxed costs, Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal senior deputy registrar Justus Kishindo has now slapped Kajoloweka with a K21 648 675 bill, which is required to pay the government.

Kajoloweka confirmed receiving the order, saying he finds the court’s motive to “punish” him for approaching it on a matter of public interest unfortunate and unjust.

He said: “Such retrogressive decisions will continue to scare citizens from challenging organised impunity in our country. These decisions seem to be tactfully aimed at arming the corrupt ruling elite to

those challenging their criminal enterprises. It is a form of shrinking civic space.

“The apparent scheme is to break our resolve, intimidate and shut us down so that impunity can thrive without any sense of responsibility to the nation. It is obvious I have no means to meet such ridiculously high costs.”

But Kaphale said in an interview yesterday that Kajoloweka needs to pay the money immediately, and that if he disobeys the court order, the State has several enforcement mechanisms to deal with the issue.

“We may involve the sheriffs which involves be declared bankrupt,” he said. seizing property, and he may also

The demand from government followed the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal’s determination on February 13 2019, reversing a High Court order that sought to compel President Mutharika to fire Chaponda.

Delivering the judgement on behalf of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal sitting in Lilongwe, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said there was no judicial provision giving the Judiciary the mandate to interfere in the decisions of the presidency regarding appointment and removal of Cabinet members.

He said Cabinet appointments were purely political and that the ministers can be fired or hired at the discretion of the President.

The court also ordered Mzuzu-based Kajoloweka, the first applicant in the initial case, to personally bear all costs incurred during the case.

The civil appeal case number five of 2017 was between George Chaponda (first appellant) and the President (second appellant) versus Kajoloweka (first respondent), YAS (second respondent), CCAP Livingstonia Synod (third respondent) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep).

On January 12 2017, Justice John Chirwa granted some civil society organisations—YAS, Church and Society and Cedep, including Kajoloweka, an interlocutory injunction restraining Chaponda from executing his duties.

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