Malawi: Mutharika, Muhara Escape Sherriff Wrath

Former president Peter Mutharika (file photo).

Barely hours after the High Court had ordered to seize and sell property of Former president Peter Mutharika and former Secretary to the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara for failing to pay K69.5m legal cost that came after losing a court case, the two have paid in full.

Charles Mhango, lawyer for Mutharika and Muhara has confirmed the development.

Mutharika and Muhara were ordered by the High Court to pay K69,507,461 on March 12 2021 in legal cost in a case where their decisions to send on Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justice of Appeal Edward Twea leave, pending retirement, were faulted.

A day earlier, the High Court Judge, Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda, sitting in Lilongwe, had ordered the Sheriff of Malawi to seize and sell property belonging to the two in a judicial review case, number 33 of 2020.

The sale of Mutharika and Muhara's property as first judgement and second judgement debtors, respectively, was meant to recover K22, 070,335.89 to which they were still owing the state after only paying K47,437,125.11 out of the full amount.

Mhango said his clients instructed him to make the payment and he indeed paid a cheque of K22m, while the other amount has been drawn from the bank accounts of Mutharika and Muhara.

On the other hand, Khumbo Soko lawyer for HRDC and Magistrates Association also confirmed that he has indeed received a cheque of K22m.

In an earlier interview after the court's pronouncement yesterday, Mhango said they were forced to obtain the order to seize assets following failure by the two to pay some money which they didn't.

"We first garnished their bank accounts and now we wanted to collect the assets," he said."

Mutharika asked Muhara to send Nyirenda and Twea on leave pending retirement ahead of the court-sanctioned June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election.

In the August 28 2020 ruling, the then High Court judge, Charles Mkandawire, now Justice of Appeal, found Mutharika and Muhara on the wrong side of the law for interfering with the role of the Judiciary, saying they had no powers to force the Chief Justice and justice of Appeal or any other judge to go on leave pending retirement.

Following this ruling, lawyers for HRDC, Association of Magistrates in Malawi and MLS, asked the court to order Mutharika and Muhara to personally pay the costs. The court granted their wish by ordering the two to pay the said sum on March 12 2021. Their application to the court to put aside the execution of order for them to pay costs was also dismissed as Justice Nyirenda observed that it had no merit.

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