CHRR and YAS civil society groups fined k80m in battle case over Lake Malawi Water Project
A case filed by Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Youth and Society (YAS) in Supreme Court seeking to control the Salima- Lilongwe Water Project has been thrown out. The two civil society groups who were seeking to substitute Malawi Law Society (MLS) in the water project were also slapped with litigation costs of k80 million by the Malawi Appeal Supreme Court. Judge Lovemore Chikopa of Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the two civic organizations, CHRR and YAS to pay for the case’s legal costs covering 80 percent of the total. The cases were filed on Nov 15th and 24th 2017.
Malawi Law Society had also filed a case at the High Court requesting it to review the awarding of a project contract to Khato Holdings by Lilongwe Water Board (LWB). MLS sighted that an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was yet to be carried out before Khato could begin the water supply project from Lake Malawi.
Following both cases filed by MLS and the two civic groups, the courts dismissed them sighting legal technicalities involved in the water project. Judge Lovemore Chikopa explained that dealings between respondents Khato Holdings and MLS had not renewed their agreement after the expiry of leave prompting their relations to cease existing legally. Judge Chikopa said he would at the time not grant the wishes of the civil society groups to join or replace MLS in the said project.
The Supreme Court Judge, Chikopa, also dismissed the request by CHRR and YAS for a timeline extension enabling them to present the case before the full court. The petitioners wished the full court would reverse the judgment made by the single judge, Chikopa and instead determine the case as a full court. In his ruling, Judge Chikopa sighted that the petitioners’ wishes did not present convincing reasons on grounds to which they would be granted an extension by the court. Further, YAS and CHRR had no standing on which to present the application before the court and were yet to become a party to proceedings to whom the order was sought.
CHRR and YAS together with Bright Theu who is their lawyer have to settle the k80 million to cover the legal costs of the petition as ordered by Supreme Court. Timothy Mtambo and Charles Kajoloweka signed affidavits by CHRR and YAS respectively. Timothy Mtambo the executive director of Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation said that they would first seek more advice from their legal counsel led by Bright Theu.
These rulings have given Lilongwe Water Board a green light to continue with the Lake Malawi Water Supply Project construction. The project has already missed many deadlines resulting from court cases interference. Upon full construction, Lake Malawi Water Supply project will be able to pump 100 cubic meters of purified water to Lilongwe city from Salima every day.