LUSAKA High Court judge Gertrude Chawatama has dismissed an application by Horizon
Education Trust in which it wanted the court to discharge the order to halt proceedings in a case it’s seeking leave to apply for Judicial Review against the President’s decision to compulsorily acquire the School.
In this matter, Horizon Education Trust, citing the Attorney General as respondent, was seeking an order of certiorari to quash the decision by the President through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to compulsorily acquire stand number KABUL/N_59565/196 in Kabulonga, known as Horizon School.
It was further seeking an order of prohibition to stop government from taking possession of the premises, among other reliefs.
Earlier this year, judge Chawatama halted proceedings in the matter until Horizon Education Trust pays costs occasioned to the State in its first action under cause no. 2019/hp/1867, which it later discontinued.
This was after the Attorney General asked the court to halt the proceedings, pending determination of the State’s application to compel Horizon Education Trust to pay costs it incurred in defending the first court action, which the school later discontinued, before proceeding with the current matter.
But on April 3, this year, Horizon Education Trust Limited asked the Lusaka High Court to discharge its order to stay proceedings in the matter, arguing that the State had used the stay of proceedings to create conditions favourable to itself.
Horizon Education Trust chairperson of the trustees, Leslie Mbula argued that the State had failed to compensate the school for the immovable property despite having valued the same at approximately K18 million.
He stated that after the court ordered a stay of the proceedings, the State, through a letter requested for costs of K256,240 but the school on March 2, this year advised that the costs were excessively high, considering the fact that no step had been taken by the State in the cause.
Mbula further stated that on March 16, the State, through another letter, reduced their fees to K225,000 but the school still rejected it as it was still excessive and the State was yet to tax the bill of costs.
However, the State asked the Court to maintain the order to stay proceedings in the matter.
Principal State Advocate in the Attorney General’s chambers Chibesa Mulonda submitted that this is because the issue of costs payable to the State under cause no. 2019/hp/1867 was yet to be determined.
And in her ruling, Justice Chawatama agreed that her court was yet to determine who owes who and how much.
She therefore dismissed the application by Horizon for lack of merit and urged the parties to quickly resolve the issue of costs for the matter to progress.