LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Some lawmakers in the ongoing sitting of Parliament have strongly accused the country’s judiciary of being soft in handling people involved in the carelessly cutting down of trees saying is a recipe for depletion of forests.
The accusation comes barely a few days after the court in Mzuzu granted an injunction some timber millers operating in Viphya Plantation popularly known as Chikangawa in Mzimba district to stop the Malawi government through Department of the Environmental and Climate Change Affairs from implementing the timber sewing closing season which runs from October 31 November to April next year.
Members of Parliament (MPs) took turns accusing the courts when they were debating the passed land-related Forestry (Amendment) bill, which seeks to empower customary land committees and local government authorities in the protection of forests.
In his contribution, on behalf of People’s Party (PP), Werani Chilenga, Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change expressed disappointment over the judiciary’s verdict for failing to support the forest management drive.
Chilenga disclosed that there is a syndicate of some timber millers who are conniving with the courts to grant them stay order on any decision government was implementing to conserve the plantation for further depletion.
He said the conduct of the judiciary on forestry management of aiding people to further invade the protected flora in the country without showing any remorse.
“Instead of making sure that people who are plundering forests are arrested, the judiciary wants the arrest of Forestry Director, Army Brigadiers, and plantation managers. This is every worrisome situation. The courts now want to take over the forests management”, said Chilenga.
But, Mzima West MP Harry Mkandawire while agreeing with Chilenga on other aspects of the court’s conduct, he said the latter should have considered the reasons behind the injunction.
MP Mkandawire observed that the stay order was in a light direction considering that only foreign companies were monopolizing the sewing of timber in Chikangawa.
Mkandawire hinted that there was no apparent reason for the department announcing the closer of sewing till April and only exempting Raiply.
“The stay order should have cut across to all miller sewers not only to locals operators. I consider this as a segregation which must not be condoned”, said Mkandawire.
In his reaction to the accusation, Judiciary spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula challenged the lawmakers over their outbursts saying the court’s mandate is to interpret and enforce the laws that are approved in the national assembly.
Mvula said the MPs were supposed to be the last group of people blaming the judiciary which is an independent arm of government.
He said access to justice is meant for everyone and that obtaining an injunction is also part and parcel of access to justice.
“Besides, injunctions are not forever as short time remedy for injury one suffers on something as such any one not happy with it they can also challenge the court.
“Unfortunately, the Forest Act being used now is outdated whereby the same MPs could have looked into it late they blame the judiciary on their conducts”, challenges Mvula.
After the closure of Viphya plantation early last month, government deployed the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) soldiers to bring order to the forest due to massive depletion in the recent years.