By Blessings Kaunda
Mzuzu High Court has thrown away an application by Joseph Bongololo Gondwe to stop Walter Mtima Gondwe from practicing as Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe on legitimacy grounds.
On November 8, lawyer for Joseph Bongololo Gondwe, solicited two injunctions, one stopping Mtima Gondwe from operating as Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe and the other, stopping him from conducting Gonapamuhanya celebrations.
However, in its determination on November 20, the court maintained a decision by President Peter Mutharika and the Minister of Local Government, Ben Phiri to install him as Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe.
“We argued on behalf of Mtima Gondwe who is the seating Paramount Chief. Today’s ruling has gone in our favour as the court has refused to grant the stay order.
In simple language, Mtima Gondwe remains Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe, and not just an acting,” said Wesley Mwafulirwa, lawyer for Mtima Gondwe.
He, however, said the court will proceed with the judicial- review process, saying the next step is scheduling conference before the case is heard.
Lawyer for Joseph Bongololo Gondwe, Michael Chipeta said he was okay with the outcome despite denying them a stay order, the court had seen a strong a case for judicial review.
“The court made it very clear that it saw a strong case for judicial review on our part and that the only reason it can’t grant the stay order is that there is no danger or risk of any danger for Mtima Gondwe to continue working as Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe.
“Now, we will only concentrate on setting the main judicial review action. The next step is to file notice of scheduling conference so that we can go for trial,” Chipeta said.
He said the court is expected to review the decision to install Mtima Gondwe as there are some provisions in the Chiefs’ Act and Republic of Malawi Constitution that were not complied with.
“The court has not heard those substantive issues yet. The next is for us to set the matter down so that the court can hear arguments from both parties,” he added.
During an application for the stay order to restrain Mtima Gondwe work as Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe, publicity secretary for Joseph Bongololo Gondwe, Stowell Gondwe told Malawi News Agency that Chikulamayembe Chieftaincy circulates among 12 families but instead was staged in one family for 112 years now.
“The installation of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe was illegally and secretly done, that is why we applied for a stay order against the paramount chief because he was not chosen by the clan.
After the death of Paramount Chief, Walter Chenje Gondwe, it was advised that the chieftaincy had overstayed in one family, so there was need to appoint another chief from another family,” he said.
Minister of Local Government, Ben Phiri installed Mtima Walter Gondwe as Paramount Chief last month (October).