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Court decides on mandatory jab

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CHALLENGED GOVERNMENT ENTITIES— Namiwa

By Wezzie Gausi:

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe Thursday threw out, with costs, an application for judicial review on the rollout of mandatory Covid vaccination for selected sectors.

The application was brought before the court by journalist Mundango Nyirenda and Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (Cdedi) Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa.

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Mundango and Cdedi asked the court to rule that the decision by the Ministry of Health to introduce mandatory vaccination by January 2022 to public servants, frontline workers and social workers, including journalists, was arbitrary, unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The two also wanted the court to rule that the declaration to administer the vaccine without citizens free and informed consent amounted to interference with the human right of bodily integrity, which is part of the right to private life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But, in his submission, Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda described Namiwa and Nyirenda as trouble-makers and busy-bodies who were not better placed to represent Malawians on health matters.

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The AG argued that the applicants demonstrated a lack of understanding of the difference between an ordinary suit and judicial review application, arguing that only ordinary suits would have the AG joining as a defendant.

He prayed that all the defendants in the case— namely the Ministry of Health, Speaker of the National Assembly, the AG and unknown others— be struck out from the proceedings on the ground that they are improper parties since none of them made the decision that resulted in the complaint.

Dismissing the application, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda said the applicants failed to show a fit case for further investigation in the proposed judicial review.

“What we have here is the proverbial ‘a storm in a tea cup’ or ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’ [case]. The application for permission to commence judicial review is, accordingly, dismissed,” the ruling reads.

Reacting to the development, Chakaka Nyirenda said the application lacked sufficient interest, sued wrong parties and suppressed material facts.

“The court agreed with our submission that the matter that was presented before the court was not apathetic. The court found that they suppressed material facts. What comes out from an examination of the documents filed with the court by the applicants is that the applicants were too casual.

“They forgot that, as one eminent judge keeps reminding us, litigation is serious business,” he said.

Defence Lawyer Oscar Taulo said he would liaise with his clients to map the way forward.

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