22 October 2018

Malawi: CSOs Want Attorney General Off K270bn Mulli Case - Should Be Replaced By 'Someone Malawians Can Trust'

Attorney General Charles Mhango, who is also governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legal director, is compromised to handle the K274 billion compensation claims from business mogul Leston Mulli and his enterprises, the civil society organisations (CSOS) have said.

Mulli is seeking the compensation for alleged loss of business following a 2012 order by the State to deny them government contracts.

Attorney General's Chamber wants the court to dismiss the application for lack of basis.

But the CSOs under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) issues a statement seen by Nyasa Times on Sunday that while they applaud government for challenging the Mulli claim, they want Attorney General to opt out, saying it is uncertain if the defence is in good faith and would be pursued with the seriousness it deserves.

"Without pre-empting the court, we hold that this claim is baseless, inconsiderate and selfish and does not come close to something legit. This is clearly thievery being masqueraded as something legitimate," reads the statement by the CSOs.

The statement was signed by HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo and vice-chairperson Gift Trapence and regional chairpersons.

"We at the Human Rights Defenders Coalition would like to echo our own calls that Charles Mhango is very partisan and, therefore, not fit for the position of Attorney General.

"He has to resign or be fired. The claim in question is just too huge a sum to gamble with a compromised lead defence lawyer."

The CSOs want government to bring on board a non-partisan person to lead the Attorney General Chambers, especially on the Mulli case which it described as "delicate."

Reads the statement: "We are looking for someone that Malawians can trust."

Mulanje West legislator Patricia Kaliati and Blantyre City East legislator Noel Masangwi, both former President Peter Mutharika allies and now his political rivals, claimed during United Transformation Movement (UTM) political rallies that earlier payment of K3 billion compensation was paid to Leston Mulli-owned firms as a way of silencing the businessman after he launched a movement in the ruling DPP to oust Mutharika, 78, from power.

Mulli has strong links to President Peter Mutharika through their shared membership of Mulhakho wa Alhomwe heritage group.

In the claim, Leston Mulli trading as Zao Marketing Agencies is the first claimant with Mulli Brothers Limited as second claimant, Sunrise Pharmaceuticals Limited being third claimant, the yet to roll-out mobile phone network operator Celcom Limited as fourth claimant and National Bus Company and Chombe Foods Limited as fifth and sixth claimants.

Mulli and five of his companies have filed documents outlining purported losses they suffered during the period of the business ban, including a ministerial order.

The present case comes weeks after Mulli on October 2 2018 obtained a court order gagging Vice-President Saulos Chilima, Kaliati, Blantyre Misesa ward councillor Louis Ngalande, Masangwi and UTM members from making statements connecting Mulli and his businesses with a multi-billion compensation claim against the Attorney General.

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