AG defends Sata’s Zamtel decision
By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia
Zambia’s Attorney General Mumba Malila has told the court that President Michael Sata’s decision to reverse the sale of Zamtel to Lap Green Networks was without malice and done in the public interest.
Malila said Lap Green Networks’ petition against the decision by the Zambian government to compulsorily acquire 75% shareholding in Zamtel should be dismissed with costs because it is premature.
Malila said:“Sata's action was done in the public interest, without malice and was reasonable in the circumstances of the case.”
This is in a matter where Libya's Lap Green Networks of Libya is challenging in a Zambian court the decision by the Zambian government to reverse the sale of 75% shares in Zamtel.
According to skeleton arguments filed before Lusaka High Court judge Albert Wood on Friday, Malila said Lap Green Networks commenced its legal action against the Zambian government without exhausting the legal procedures provided.
Malila submitted that the Zambian government's decision on Zamtel was legal and met all the relevant procedural requirements.
He said the Zambian government’s decision fell within a species of action called Eminent Domain, which exists in most democratic societies.
Malila said sata had scrupulously followed the procedural steps and that there was no ground on which Lap Green Networks could fault the government.
Malila said it was not right for Lap Green Networks to contend that there was procedural impropriety on the ground that it was not heard before Sata made up his mind to reverse the sale. “The right to be heard is not absolute and must be considered in light of the provisions of the law," Malila said.
Malila said the acquisition of 75% shareholding in Zamtel by Lap Green Networks was extremely controversial.
Additionally, Malila submitted that the issue of compensations was never discussed by the parties before the matter was brought to court.
Malila was fired by former President Rupiah Banda as Attorney General for opposing the sale of the company to Lap Green Networks.
But when Sata formed government in September last year after a general election, he reappointed Malila as Attorney General and is now using him to defend the government in court over the decision to reverse the sale of the company.