The Attorney General (AG), Kalekeni Kaphale has appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court’s ruling to suspend beleaguered Agriculture Minister, George Chaponda, in the wake of the ongoing probe into the suspicious Zambia- Malawi maize deal.
In the affidavit filed to the Mzuzu Court Registry, Kaphale seeks dismissal of all court proceedings pertaining to the case with costs in favour of the government side.
In the papers, the AG finds Judge John Chirwa’s ruling erroneous arguing that under rare circumstances and narrow grounds can presidential powers of appointment, suspension and dismissal of ministers be reviewed by the courts.
Kaphale also faults Chirwa’s failure to note that the case in question lacks triable issue of legality of exercise of presidential powers.
“The learned judge erred in failing to identify which constitutional provisions would be subject to judicial review in light of the facts so far disclosed, at the main judicial review hearing,” reads part of the appeal.
Kaphale also contends that the findings of the instituted commission of inquiry would be non-binding on the President and that the court has no evidence that Chaponda would interfere with the commission’s work.
But some commentators in the country have challenged Kaphale’s move saying it lacks sufficient grounds.
“If the Commission of Inquiry is non-binding why set it up in the first place? Kaphale might just be fulfilling his obligation as a legal counsel to the state even when he doesn’t believe there is a valid challenge to the court’s decision,” said veteran politician Dan Msowoya.
Msowoya further wondered why the state fails to place Chaponda’s case within the narrow circumstances that he cites in the application that the president’s prerogative powers can be reviewed.
George Phiri, a social commentator at the University of Livingstonia corroborated Msowoya’s sentiments that Kaphale is only sticking to the routine of his office.
Reacting to the development, lawyer for the civil society organisations [The Church and Society of the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central African Presbyterian, Youth and Society and Centre for the Development of People] which obtained the injunction against Chaponda three weeks ago, Wesley Mwafulirwa, vowed to pursue the case further.
“We have been served with the appeal papers. We don’t agree with the AG and we are ready to face him in court,” Mwafulirwa said.
Speaking separately, Moses Mkandawire of the Church and Society described the state’s continued defence of Chaponda as a threat to democracy.
He said: “We are not against Chaponda as an individual, all we want are fair investigations. We are neither saying Chaponda is guilty nor are the courts. They are only agreeing with the proposal that has come through from the CSOs.”
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