Sunday, May 26, 2024

DPP’s Court Defiance in Blue-Night Scandal: Mutharika risks imprisonment

Former President Arthur Peter Mutharika

The unrepentant opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is facing a continuous series of challenges, with their recent situation involving contempt of court due to their refusal to comply with a ruling issued by High Court Judge Zione Ntaba in June 2023 at the Zomba Registry.

This contempt of court accusation is linked to the notorious Blue Night event, which occurred before the 2019 election. At that time, when DPP was in power, the party utilized coercive tactics, including threats, to compel parastatals like Mzuzu City Council, Lilongwe City Council, and Blantyre City Council to contribute funds totaling K13.5 million for their campaign. However, this action was met with opposition from certain civil society organizations (CSOs), which subsequently took the matter to court, seeking the return of the funds obtained from taxpayers.

High Court Judge Zione Ntaba ruled on June 1, 2023, that the DPP should reimburse the K13.5 million. Despite this ruling, the party has not yet complied with the verdict. This situation has led to frustration among CSOs, including the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Youth and Society (YAS), Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), and Livingstonia Synod’s Church and Society Programme. These CSOs have instructed their lawyer, Wesley Mwafulirwa, to initiate contempt of court proceedings, potentially putting certain party officials such as Peter Mutharika at risk of imprisonment.

Mwafulirwa emphasized that there is no stay on the judgment, implying that the ruling remains effective in the absence of any contrary actions from the DPP. The party has not taken any measures to address the directions and declarations issued by the High Court of Malawi. Therefore, they are now facing contempt charges.

The DPP has been noted for its disrespectful attitude toward Malawian courts and its disregard for the rule of law, behavior that ultimately led to their loss of government in 2019.

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