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Blantyre City Council wants judgement on Blue Night case withheld

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Blantyre City Council (BCC), which is the second respondent in a case involving the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Blue Night event, has asked the Supreme Court of Appeal not to proceed with judgement in a case in which Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) want the party to repay K13.5 million taken from some parastatals for its Blue Night event.

The development comes after judge Zione Ntaba ruled on March 13 2018 in favour of CSOs that dragged it to court.

However, BCC wants judgement delayed pending appeal of the case.

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According to a notice of appeal that The Daily Times has seen, the defence prays for no mediation on the matter and that the ruling to strike down the case should be looked into further.

“The second respondent being dissatisfied with the judgement of the High Court Zomba District Registry, the Honourable Justice ZJVN taba presiding, dated 13th day of March 2018 dismissing the second respondent’s application to strike out action hereby appeals to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal,” the notice reads in part.

Among other things, the notice indicates that the appeal is on the grounds that the judge erred in law by finding as a fact that the applicants are human rights activists when there was no evidence before the court supporting such finding.

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“The judge erred in law by failing to properly apply the test for locus standi as firmly established by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of Civil Liberties Committee v Minister of Justice MSCA Civil Appeal Number 12 of 1999 (being High Court Civil Cause Number 55 of 1998),” reads the notice in part.

The court set June 6 2018 for ruling of the application,

Lawyer representing CSOs, Wesley Mwafulirwa, said he agrees with the proposal to postpone the dates because they have been served on short notice.

“I live in Mzuzu and I need a full day of travel. Apart from that, I also need to consult my clients and research on the case. Because you have to be aware that I do not just stay in the court, I need to present my case, so we have agreed to postpone the case to a later date,” he said.

The CSOs want the DPP to repay money taken from parastatals such as BCC, Mzuzu City Council, Lilongwe City Council and Lilongwe Water Board.

On March 13 this year, judge Ntaba, ruled that the four CSOs who are pushing for the reimbursement of the money – Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Youth and Society, Centre for the Development of People and Livingstonia Synod’s Church and Society Programme – had sufficient interest in the matter and that it was within their right to take the case to court.

Ntaba then directed that the matter be taken for mediation before Justice Redson Kapindu from Sunday at the High Court in Zomba.

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