15 November 2018

Malawi: High Court Throws Out Transglobe Claim for K30bn Compensation

The High Court in Blantyre has thrown out a K30 billion compensation claim by Tayub Rashid and Transglobe Produce Export Limited for loss of business and false imprisonment in the infamous maizegate scandal on technical grounds.

Tayub and Transglobe had applied to the court to force the government pay them in excess of K30 billion t for loss of business and arbitrary arrest in connection with a maize importation from Zambia deal gone sour which saw former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda lose his cabinet portfolio.

Judge Mark Tembo said Tayub and his Transglobe did not follow the right procedures because they did not give the government a three-month notice before commencement of the case.

"The three-month notice is a matter of public policy. This gives government to prepare," said Tembo.

Tayub was arrested in July 2017 and charged with persuading a public officer to perform his functions corruptly contrary to Section 25A (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) after he was implicated in the maize import scandal where former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda was suspected to have flouted procedures when the country wanted to buy 100 000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia.

A magistrate court in Zomba acquitted both Tayub and Chaponda on corruption over the maize deal, a ruling which was severely criticized by a cross section of the society, saying it smacked of corruption but Chaponda's political career remains knocked down after the acquittal.

Chaponda was seen as heir to President Peter Mutharika in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Tayub accused government of unlawfully and maliciously imprisoning him and depriving him of liberty.

In the affidavits, Tayub also claims that government acted with malice and lacked reasonable causes by arresting Tayub after failing to make proper investigations, arresting without prior investigations to establish suspicion and prosecuting despite absence of any reasonable cause.

Transglobe, on the other hand, also filed a claim against the ACB, accusing the graft-busting body of mounting false and malicious investigations in the absence of reasonable suspicion, failure to prosecute for any offence even after humiliating investigations; that the company was not involved in any criminal conduct; and that the ACB insisted on prosecuting Tayub despite knowing that Transglobe was suffering huge losses and damages as a result of the investigations.

In the application, Transglobe listed the loss of business as unprecedented, including sudden revenue downturn, being blacklisted in business by government agencies and non-governmental organisations and the recalling of banking and loan facilities the company had with Nedbank (Malawi) Limited, National Bank of Malawi plc and FDH Bank Limited who demanded immediate repayment of the loans.

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