A group of Mulanje-based businesspersons on Friday obtained an interlocutory injunction preventing politician Bon Kalindo, Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) and the government from signing the planned Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) without businesspersons’ involvement.

According to the affidavit that lawyer Chancy Gondwe filed on behalf of the businesspersons, the plaintiffs, who include lodge and motel owners Ken Chilewe and Henri Mweziwina, are arguing that the wrangle between the Concerned Citizens led by Kalindo and MMCT has negatively affected their operations in the district.

“We have heard that the defendants are intending to sign a Memorandum of Understanding tomorrow 19 September 2014 but despite being concerned parties, we have not been given access to the document nor have been made a party to the same considering that we have been equally affected as businessmen in the district,” reads part of the affidavit that was filed.

In the affidavit, the businesspersons said the closure of MMCT offices has resulted into reduced number of tourists visiting the mountain which has had devastating impact on their tourism-related businesses.

“MMCT offices were permanently closed after the receipt of the petition (from concerned citizens) and this has heavily impacted on our businesses which we run in the hospitality industry as foreign tourists who used to come due to the operations of Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust are no longer coming to Mulanje.

“The trust has got also a rescue team which is also instrumental in assisting missing tourists on Mulanje Mountain and due to the closure the rescue operations cannot be handled effectively now and the tourists who used to patronise Mulanje are no longer interested in coming due to safety fears,” the businesspersons said.

The concerned businesspersons also said they petitioned the Mulanje District Commissioner challenging the conduct of Kalindo’s group for affecting investment and other activities including sports which MMCT sponsors.

The court order has since affected the signing of the MOU on the Mulanje Mountain forest reserve up until the plaintiffs have been given access to the contents of the MOU and their views are incorporated.

Meanwhile Kalindo, has disclosed that he has pulled out of the fight in which he and other concerned citizens from the district were accusing MMCT of exploiting the mountain’s natural resources instead of preserving them.

In an interview yesterday, Kalindo said he and the other concerned citizens were asked to change the name of their operation to which they complied and came up with “Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje.”

“We have so far fought a good fight. We tried to engage government by signing a Memorandum of Understanding. Now government is saying the name that we came up with does not represent the 500, 000 people of Mulanje and the 15 million citizens of Malawi.”

Kalindo, however, emphasised that his group’s decision to pull out of the pact does not imply they will no longer have anything to do with the mountain.

He added that since government is not showing enough commitment on preserving the tallest mountain in Central Africa, the concerned group will be petitioning international bodies on the matter.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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