High Court Judge Dorothy de Gabrielle is next week expected to hear an application civil society organisations (CSOs) made on Tuesday for leave to commence committal proceedings for Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda.
Justice de Gabrielle of Mzuzu Registry of the High Court has taken over the case from Justice John Chirwa who has now permanently returned to Blantyre Registry.
In an interview yesterday, Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula confirmed that Justice de Gabriel will start working at the Mzuzu Registry on Monday next week and within the same week will hear application for leave on Chaponda’s contempt case.
He said: “First of all the judge will hear the matter as ex-partes to grant leave or not to commence committal proceedings against Honourable Chaponda. If the judge will grant leave to commence proceedings, then it will be okay for the applicants to file for committal proceedings in terms of contempt of court.
“If the court will say no, then that will be end of the matter.”
Lawyer for the CSOs, Wesley Mwafulirwa yesterday said the new judge will also review President Peter Mutharika’s decision not to suspend Chaponda amid a probe into his ministry which Justice Chirwa already granted.
“Justice Chirwa will no longer handle the case because he has permanently returned to Blantyre, as you know that he was just a visiting judge in Mzuzu.
“The new judge that we will be given will also handle the judicial review issue which already got a nod from Justice Chirwa,” he said.
Meanwhile, the State has already applied to the Supreme Court of Appeal seeking relief on Justice Chirwa’s Tuesday determination in which he ruled that leave for judicial review of Mutharika’s decision not to suspend Chaponda amid a probe into the Zambia maize import transaction must proceed.
Justice Chirwa also sustained Chaponda’s injunction and ruled that CSOs that obtained the injunction must not be removed from the list of applicants.
In the Notice of Appeal to the Supreme Court, the State, through Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale argues that Justice Chirwa, among others, erred in failing to find that presidential powers of appointment, suspension or dismissal can only be reviewed on narrow and limited grounds.
Reads the notice in part: “The learned Judge erred in failing to find that though some Executive action may be judicially reviewable under the new constitutional order, Presidential powers of appointment, suspension or dismissal of ministers can only be reviewed on very narrow and limited grounds of legality and that the current judicial review proceedings raised no such issue.
“The learned Judge erred in failing to find that there was no triable issue of the legality of the exercise of Presidential powers of appointment or suspension (or failing to so do) of the 1st Appellant that the Respondent’s Form 86A raised and which merited further inquiry in a main judicial review proceeding.”
Kaphale further faults the ruling for failing to identify constitutional provisions that would be subject to judicial review in light of the facts so far disclosed, at the main judicial review hearing.
Chaponda travelled to Germany, allegedly on duty, which violated the dictates of the injunction CSOs obtained on January 12 2017, restraining him from executing his official duties until a probe into the alleged fraudulent purchase of maize from Zambia by Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation is concluded.
He sneaked into the country last Wednesday through Chileka International Airport. n