LUAPULA Hydropower Corporation Limited (LHCL) has applied before the Kabwe High Court for an order for leave to issue committal proceedings against Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) for disregarding a court’s order.

LHCL has submitted that WARMA, through its board of directors, disobeyed the consent order of court with impunity by cancelling its (LHCL’s) substantive water permits, contrary to the direction of the said consent order.

It adds that it is excessively clear that WARMA’s board and its employees are willfully acting in contempt of court.

According to a statement supporting an application for leave to apply for an order for committal filed in the Kabwe High Court recently, LHCL submitted that WARMA, through its board of directors, were in contempt and ridicule of the Court by flagrantly and with impunity, disobeying the order of the Court dated November 28, 2018.

It stated that the said order, ordered among others, that, “WARMA shall grant LHCL conditional temporal water rights over the Kundabwika and Kabwelume waterfalls for purposes of conducting and submitting the Environmental Impact Assessment (ElA) and upon the ElA being approved by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and submitted to WARMA the conditional temporal rights aforesaid shall be converted to substantive rights.”

LHCL stated that after it satisfied the command of the order, WARMA, by its board, granted it substantive water permits for Kundabwika and Kabwelume falls, respectively.

It, however, stated that WARMA by and through its board willfully and deliberately disobeyed and disregarded the said court order when by its letter dated August 6, 2020, it stated that, “(i) At the time you applied for the permits with WARMA, they were subsisting rights over the waters to which the two permits attach; and (ii) the permits in question were not granted by WARMA board of directors, which is the only entity mandated by the Act to grant water permits. The board of directors was not in place at the time of the grant.”

LHCL stated that by the said decision and letter of the WARMA board, the board had deliberately and wantonly subverted and disregarded the court order and, therefore, acted in a manner contemptuous of the authority of the order and the Court.

“In furtherance of the contemptuous conduct aforesaid, the Board has issued a criminal complaint against LHCL and two of its employees (Brian Chisala and Katambi Bulawayo) for allegedly refusing to surrender the water permits as demanded in the contemptuous letter. By the above said actions, WARMA board members by themselves or the servants have deliberately and actively failed or neglected to abide by the court order and have continued to ignore and disobey it,” it stated.

LHCL added that in the premises, it was entitled to be granted an order for leave to issue contempt proceedings.

WARMA has lodged a complaint against Luapula Hydropower Corporation Limited and its two directors Brian Chisala and Katambi Bulawayo in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court for allegedly failing to surrender water permits, contrary to the provisions of section 86 (2) of the Water Resources Management Act No. 21 of 2011.

LHCL and its two directors, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, Monday.