Public interest excluded from DBZ case

Unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the government may now succeed in removing the controversial K14 billion Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) loan obtained by the directors of the defunct Zambian Airways from court.

This follows a decision by Lusaka High Court Judge Justin Chashi to reject an application by the Zambian Voice which wanted to join in the DBZ loan saga and defend public interest.

The Zambian Voice executive director Chilufya Tayali now plans to appeal the matter following Judge Chashi’s ruling yesterday.

He said public interest litigation was confined to vindication of human and constitutional rights stating that public interest had more to do with public law.

Judge Chashi ruled that the matter was not a proper case for joining of Mr Tayali to the DBZ loan proceedings.

In his application, Mr Tayali said it was his considered view that many Zambians who were tax payers, would be adversely affected by any decision of the court especially in view of the fact that the Attorney General who was legally recognized as the custodian of public interest was not a party to the action.

Mr Tayali said the Attorney General had in the past sought to discontinue the proceedings and that it had become expedient and necessary for him to be joined to case to ensure public interest was taken into account.

Judge Chashi in his 18-page ruling said although a lot of serious questions had been raised by Chilufya Tayali, the matter did not reflect public interest and that he (Tayali) failed to meet the requisite tests of public interest.

Judge Chashi ruled that in trying to justify why the matter was before the court, Mr Tayali claimed public interest adding that legally speaking, a matter did not become public interest simply because it had heavily become a subject of debate by members of the public.

But the defendants argued that the Supreme Court had already ruled on the matter and the matter was therefore barred by the doctrine of res judicata adding that Mr Tayali did not have the locus standi in his application.

The defendants contended in their arguments that Mr Tayali was behaving like a meddlesome private Attorney General frowned upon by the courts.

“As the matter before this court stands, although a lot of serious question have been raised by the applicant, this matter does not strike me to be of public interest. Even if it was supposed to be, the applicant does not meet the requisite tests of public interest. This is not a proper case for joining of the applicant to the proceedings as a party. The application is refused,” Judge Chashi said.