The High Court in Lilongwe this week declared Member of Parliament (MP) for Mzimba Hora Constituency, Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, bankrupt beginning June 1 2018, making him ineligible to hold any public office in the country.
Consequently, Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya has been advised, by copy of the court documents, to declare Ngwira’s parliamentary seat vacant.
Judiciary spokesperson Agnes Patemba and his lawyer Wapona Kita confirmed the development in separate interviews.
But Kita said he would not divulge further information since he had not met his client at the time of the interview.
Section 51(2d) of the country’s Constitution says a person is not qualified to hold the position of MP if he has been declared bankrupt or adjudged to be bankrupt under any laws of Malawi.
Patemba said the court made the ruling Tuesday in a case which the Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker was sued by Tata Motor Limited of Zambia through its branch in Malawi, for a debt of over K60 million from motor vehicle purchases.
“It is true the court has ruled that Ngwira is not liquid; he does not have money for the transactions. The decision comes after he was given a number of deadlines and orders to raise the money but he has been unable to do that,” Patemba said
The Daily Times gathered that Ngwira and the motor vehicle company struck a deal in 2015 but the legislator has been missing deadlines of payment, forcing the motor vehicle company to seek legal redress on the matter.
Patemba said the company commenced bankruptcy proceedings against the lawmaker after he failed to honour a 21-day ultimatum issued by the court.
“The proceedings begun in 2015 and, at some point, there was consent to which he agreed to and an order was granted. He agreed that he would pay the money but he didn’t, forcing the applicant to file for bankruptcy charges,” Patemba added.
This technically means Ngwira’s accumulated debts surpass his income, such that he cannot be trusted with any public office.
Legal expert Justin Dzonzi said in a telephone interview that the firebrand politician is now disqualified from holding any public office, including that of parliamentarian.
He said, by law, he is not allowed to earn a living and can only do so through his trustees.
“In such a scenario, if a person has any gainful employment, his money has to be received by his trustees of bankruptcy so that they can apply the proceeds to the debt until it has been repaid. Further, he cannot be employed since he is bound by law to act through others who are the trustees and yet employment is a direct personal service,” Dzonzi said.
He said Ngwira may only be fit for public office when the court declared him liquid after servicing all his debts.
Spokesperson for Parliament Leonard Mengezi asked for a questionnaire but hinted that, for Parliament to institute the process of declaring the legislator’s position vacant, another MP has to move a motion.