Interdicted Blantyre principal resident magistrate Mzonde Mvula has sued Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo and two others for contempt of court for allegedly ignoring an Industrial Relations Court (IRC) order to reinstate him.
Mvula, who was acquitted by the High Court on corruption charges in May 2012, last week filed for contempt of court against Munlo, who is also chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Attorney General (AG) Anthony Kamanga and Mike Tembo, the acting Registrar of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court of Malawi.
But Tembo said in an interview on Tuesday that the High Court refused to grant Mvula permission to go ahead with contempt of court proceedings because the move was deemed inappropriate.
He said the AG would also be looking into the order made by the IRC because the JSC and the AG himself were not heard before the order was issued.
But Mvula’s lawyer, Lusungu Gondwe, said Tuesday he would be addressing the court today (Wednesday) to justify why his application for contempt proceedings should be accepted.
He said Mvula has sued the trio in their personal capacities and that the application was filed ex-parte; hence, the presiding judge is seeking clarification on some issues he would address today (Wednesday).
Following his acquittal and subsequent failure by the Judiciary to reinstate him, Mvula sought an IRC order that his interdiction was unlawful and an order for payment of his remuneration, which the court duly granted.
The IRC ordered the JSC to reinstate interdicted Mvula and pay him his salary in arrears.
In his ruling delivered on December 4 2012, IRC deputy chairperson Jack N’riva gave the JSC and the AG 21 days to comply with the ruling. However, at the expiry of that period on December 25, the Judiciary had not complied with the order.
The Judiciary continued to keep Mvula on interdiction on the basis that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) appealed against his acquittal in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
In a related development, the ACB’s appeal in the Supreme Court is scheduled to be heard this Friday after it failed to take place on Monday this week because a required three-judge panel was short by one judge who had travelled to Lilongwe.
Mvula was in May last year acquitted alongside two other suspects by High Court Judge Geoffrey Mwase after the ACB failed to prove that Mvula solicited a K5 million bribe from a businessperson, Ramesh Patel.
The IRC had noted in its ruling that Mvula’s criminal proceedings had nothing to do with his employment. The court further argued the JSC and the AG did not challenge Mvula’s assertions that the criminal proceedings were concluded.