Nine Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judges are today set to hear a motion of appeal by two civil society organisations (CSOs) to replace the Malawi Law Society (MLS) in the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project case.
If the two CSOs—Youth and Society (YAS) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR)—succeed in the case, the matter will revert to the High Court of Malawi to determine the legality of the project in respect of awarding of the contract to Khato Civils Limited as well as commencement of work without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.
The hearing today comes just weeks after government signed a deal with a financier of the K400 billion Lilongwe-Salima Project, Trissag Espanola of South Africa, effectively putting on course the project that has faced several hurdles.
YAS and CHRR, through private practice lawyer Bright Theu, appealed the matter to the full bench after a single Supreme Court of Appeal judge Lovemore Chikopa dismissed their application on December 22 2017.
In his judgement, Chikopa said the wishes of CHRR and YAS could not be granted because at the time of making the application, proceedings that had existed between MLS and the respondents, Khato Holdings, had ceased to exist after leave had expired and there was no renewal.
In an interview, YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka said the main points coming for argument and determination are whether Chikopa had requisite active jurisdiction to entertain the applications by the defendants which led to the throwing out of the case.
Recently, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Goodall Gondwe told our sister newspaper Nation on Sunday that government had nothing to do with matters on the project as the issue is currently in court.
MLS wanted the High Court to review a decision by Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) to award Khato Holdings a contract for the project before an EIA was done.
But Chikopa dismissed the case, stating that all parties in the matter before the High Court ceased to exist upon the expiry or elapsing of time MLS should have filed substantive summons for leave for judicial review.