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Ombudsman takes Mera case to Supreme Court

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KITA—We cannot proceed to the substantive
matter before the appeal is heard

The Office of Ombudsman has said it is challenging High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda’s decision sustaining the order stopping the release of findings of a probe into the recruitment of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) Chief Executive Officer Henry Kachaje.

Ombudsman Grace Malera said Wednesday that her office was preparing appeal documents.

“The Office of the Ombudsman applied for leave to appeal against the ruling that the High Court judge made. The leave was granted and we are preparing the appeal documents to be filed at the Supreme Court in due course,” she said.

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Mera lawyer Wapona Kita said they did not object to the Ombudsman’s application for the leave to appeal and the judge granted it because it was within their right.

“We appeared before the judge for scheduling conference and a date was given around end February but my understanding is that we cannot proceed to the substantive matter before the appeal is heard. If the Supreme Court says the High Court was wrong then we will not proceed but when it says the High Court was right, we will go back to the High Court,” he said.

Nyirenda ruled that the Ombudsman’s application to discharge the order stopping her office from releasing the report lacked merit.

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“In view of the foregoing and by reason thereof, it is my holding that the interests of justice tilt in favour of preserving the status quo in order not to render these proceedings nugatory,” he said.

Malera was served with the injunction minutes after she and her team had started presenting findings of the report titled ‘Curbing Impunity’ on November 10 last year.

The Ombudsman then moved the courts to vacate the injunction on the basis that the order to grant Mera permission to commence judicial review proceedings was wrongfully sought and granted, describing it as a clear breach of constitutional provisions.

On the other hand, Mera argued that permission to commence judicial review proceedings was properly sought and granted, further indicating that the Ombudsman did not have jurisdiction to inquire into the legality or procedural correctness of Kachaje’s appointment.

The energy regulatory body also argued that Malera was conflicted in the matter as she also applied for the position but was not shortlisted.

The report had, however, already gone viral on social media by the time the injunction was served.

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