Judge Zione Ntaba orders DPP to refund K14m to Malawians within 30 days

It is another win for the poor Malawians as the High Court Judge, Zione Ntaba, has ordered the erstwhile governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to refund Malawians cash amounting to K14 million.

While it was in power, DPP forcibly obtained this money from district councils and government parastatals for its Blue Night, something that did not please civil society organizations (CSOs), which took the matter to the court.

The CSOs, led by Gift Trapence, Charles Kajoloweka, Robert Mkwezalamba, Moses Mkandawire and Timothy Mtambo who represented five CSOs in September 2017 when the matter started, argued that DPP had no reasons to use public funds for its fundraising dinner and dance held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on July 29 2017.

The party applied in vain to have the court strike out the case in December 2021, counter-arguing that the claimants (CSOs) failed to, among others, comply with the directions issued earlier by the court as such there was no need to advance prosecution of the matter.

Its major contention, according to DPP lawyer Chimwemwe Sikwese, was the CSOs’ delay to file essential court documents, which he argued, signified the claimants’ lack of interest to put the matter on trial.

DPP President Peter Mutharika displaying Airtel Money code to DPP members for fundraising during the party’s recent fundraising dinner

The five CSOs were Centre for the Development of People, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Youth and Society, Human Rights Consultative Committee and Livingstonia Synod’s Church and Society Programme.

The party also wanted the court to strike out the proceedings because it was improperly named in the matter where, instead of Democratic Progressive Party, it was referred to as Democratic People’s Party, which it argued was irregular.

But in her ruling, Ntaba dismissed the DPP on the wrong name, arguing that the misspelling of the name was an issue attributed to all parties, including the court as the draft Order of Directions on November 12 2021 on being sent to all parties had no one noting the mistake.

The judge also dismissed the DPP’s prayer on non-compliance as well as two other preliminary objections the party raised arguing, among others, they were not sustained. She later set down the matter for virtual hearing last Monday.

And in her judgment delivered on Thursday, Ntaba ordered DPP to pay back the money within 30 days.

The party has not yet commented on the matter. Since it lost power through the Fresh President Election in June 2020, DPP has been sailing through troubled waters.

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