THE Lusaka High Court has thrown out an injunction in which the Patriotic Front sued First Lady Thandiwe Banda for assisting the vulnerable, alleging that she is abusing Government funds.
In his ruling, Judge Phillip Musonda said the application should not have been brought before court by a person of average comprehension.
He said the application for an injunction was against a wrong party as she has no role to play in receiving or spending Government funds.
Judge Musonda also said no evidence of abuse of public funds was presented. The court said the assumption that she was abusing funds is speculative and that the injunction to stop her, as a first lady, from using Government resources, does not meet the test of irreparability of damage when this practice has gone on for 44 years.
“This injunction on disbursement of funds illustrates a serious misunderstanding by the plaintiffs,” Judge Musonda said.
He said to grant the injunction against Mrs Banda will be violating the Constitution and the Financial Control Management Act.
Judge Musonda said the two statues have appointed officers to receive, pay and audit Government revenue.
He said granting the injunction can also amount to an intrusion in the Auditor General’s constitutional function, the Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Treasury, controlling officers who are personally liable for unauthorised expenditure and internal auditors’ statutory functions.
Evelyn Kangwa and Majorie Nakaponda filed an application for an injunction against Mrs Banda seeking the court to restrain her from acting in any capacity not supported by any law of the land. They wanted the court to restrain Mrs Banda from disbursing moneys and distributing goods which are not provided for in the estimates of expenditure by Parliament.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer Wynter Kabimba, were also seeking the court to restrain Mrs Banda from using the facilities in the absence of disclosing the source of the monies and goods and also to restrain her from using official Government facilities and services for alleged party political activities until after trial.
Judge Musonda said Mrs Banda has no role directing, disbursing or controlling expenditure. He said Zambia has been independent since 1964 and that all first ladies in the country have enjoyed these facilities which are a practice world over.
Judge Musonda said the United States, United Kingdom andthe entire Commonwealth Africa exercise the same practice which attained the status of a constitution convention.
He said Vera Chiluba set up the Hope Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, which was identified with her while Mrs Maureen Mwanawasa set up the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative.
He said the current first lady states that she wants to join hands with all charitable and non-governmental organisations to help various organisations depending on their needs.
The court said Mrs Banda’s sentiments demonstrate that her approach is non-partisan and wondered how distributing goods to the needy or towards poverty alleviation can cause irreparable harm when more personalised charitable work by previous first ladies did not cause irreparable harm.
[Zambia Daily Mail]