Former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) deputy commissioner-general Roza Mbilizi can afford a smile after the Supreme Court of Appeal sustained an Industrial Relations Court (IRC) order staying her dismissal.
In his ruling, Justice of Appeal Lovemore Chikopa stated it was in the court’s “most considered view” that the scales of justice weigh more towards resuscitating the interim relief as ordered by IRC than not.
Mbilizi was dismissed from MRA in July 2020 by President Lazarus Chakwera after her arrest in connection with fraud-related charges, particularly alleged importation of cement worth K3.2 billion by former President Peter Mutharika’s aide.
She took the matter to the Supreme Court after High Court Judge Mike Tembo maintained an earlier order issued by another High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise setting aside the IRC ruling which reinstated her after her dismissal.
In August 2021, the former MRA deputy chief challenged the propriety of her summary dismissal and claimed damages for unlawful removal from office against MRA. The IRC ruled in her favor and ordered her reinstatement with full benefits.
Following the IRC order, the MRA applied for a judicial review and an injunction, including an order putting aside implementation of the IRC ruling where Madise granted the public tax collector its wish.
But Mbilizi later joined the case as an interested party and further asked the High Court to reverse Madise’s decision to set aside the stay order and injunction on the basis that she will be affected by the court processes.
MRA argued that Mbilizi did not have the capacity to pay back the benefits nor did she prove to the court despite presenting a land certificate as proof.
The revenue authority also argued that it would do harm if the decision by the IRC would be sustained in regards to the public interest.
But in November last year, Judge Tembo ruled in favour of MRA and ordered the continuation of the order of stay and injunction granted by Madise and further declined to discharge the same.
Following Tembo’s ruling, Mbilizi through her team of lawyers from Ritz Attorneys, further took the issue to the Supreme Court where Justice Chikopa ruled in her favour.