The High Court of Malawi has dismissed a plea by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa and three others for the party to hold an early elective convention.
In his ruling yesterday, High Court judge Simeon Mdeza however gave the claimants some relief when he ordered that DPP central committee lacked mandate to expel them and that the party’s disciplinary committee was irregularly constituted.
DPP in 2020 expelled Nankhumwa, secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey, treasurer general Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda for allegedly influencing the rejection of party president Peter Mutharika’s appointment of former Nsanje Central legislator Francis Kasaila as Leader of Opposition in Parliament to replace Nankhumwa.
The four obtained an injunction on October, 3 2020 against their expulsion. Later the two sides agreed to settle their differences through a mediation process.
However, the talks collapsed, prompting High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda, who led the negotiations, to refer the case for full trial. In February this year, Mhango withdrew from the case.
Lawyer representing Nankhumwa and others, Gilbert Khonyongwa, said out of the 10 prayers they presented to the court, at least eight were granted.
He said: “The court has directed that the expulsion is null and void, that the central committee lacked mandate to expel the claimants and that the defendants’ disciplinary committee was irregularly constituted.
“The court has also granted that all replacements appointed in the claimants’ positions should not work and that Nankhumwa was validly elected as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament by the DPP.”
Khonyongwa also said the court has compelled the DPP to hold a duly constituted national governing council and central committee meetings within reasonable time.
Reacting to the ruling yesterday, DPP director of legal affairs Charles Mhango said they have no problems with the outcome of the case.
He said: “We did not want to defend the case because the decision to reverse the expulsion of the four had already been made.”
But Mhango said what the defence was worried about was the issue of an early convention which the three were asking and that the court should declare that Mutharika is no longer president of the DPP.
He said: “They were calling for a mid-term convention and those three things the court has rejected them.”
The ruling followed failure by the DPP to submit all skeleton arguments, witness statements and other relevant documents twice, first before February 15 and May 5 for the case to proceed.
Mhango said Mutharika may convene the central committee to map the way forward following the ruling.