The Supreme Court of Appeal on Thursday rejected an appeal by two civil society organisations (CSOs) to join the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project case.
The two CSOs – Centre for Human Right Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Youth and Society (YAS) – wanted to replace the Malawi Law Society (MLS) which earlier asked the High Court to review the decision to award Khato Civils the contract for the water project before an environmental impact assessment was conducted.
Last year, Supreme Court of Appeal judge Lovemore Chikopa dismissed the organisations’ application and the CSOs appealed saying they wanted the matter to be heard by a full bench.
Yesterday, a seven-member panel led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said the two organisations cannot join the matter now because the case was validly annulled last year.
According to the judges, the case which the two organisations filed was already dismissed in the MLS application.
Reacting to the ruling, the applicants’ lawyer Bright Theu said it is disappointing that the seven member bench endorsed the decision of a single judge.
“With due respect, this is the highest court of the land. What this court has done was just to endorse the judgment of a single member of the court, which was rendered without appropriate jurisdiction. And I can’t just process that, that is why I am deeply disappointed,” said Theu.
Lawyer representing Khato Holdings Chancy Gondwe was happy that the matter has been concluded saying the project can now be implemented without hurdles.
He said: “We are happy that the Supreme Court, which is the highest court on the land comprising seven justices of appeal, has actually agreed with the observations we have been making all along. This now mean there is nothing to stop Khato Holdings from implementing the project,” said Gondwe.
The K400 billion Salima-Lilongwe project will see millions of people in Dowa, Salima and Lilongwe being supplied with water from Lake Malawi.