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LAWYERS ABANDON MUTATI…as lungu drops him from cabinet

LAWYERS who were representing Felix Mutati, politician Raphael Nakacinda and two others yesterday abandoned the case in which they were sued for illegally holding a convention, ushering themselves as MMD leaders after informing court they had no further instructions to represent them in the main matter.

Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu has dropped Mutati from his cabinet and consequently revoked his nomination to Parliament. When the case came up before judge Sharon Newa yesterday, she was informed that Mutati, Nakacinda and others appealed against the ruling she delivered on November 1 in which she threw out their preliminary issues with costs. Mutati had raised preliminary issues, seeking the determination of whether Winnie Zaloumis, who is MMD’s acting national secretary, could challenge their election when her tenure of office allegedly expired in 2016.

But judge Newa dismissed it, saying it was not only forum shopping but also a multiplicity of actions and an abuse of court process which Mutati and Nakacinda appealed against and wanted her to stay the proceedings pending determination of the appeal. Judge Newa declined to stay the proceedings and ordered that trial commences with Winnie Zaloumis who was on the stand. However, Mutati’s defence lawyer Jonas Zimba asked to be excused from defending the matter because he had no instructions and walked out of the courtroom.

Nakacinda, who was present in court appeared in person and sought an adjournment to engage another lawyer but Nevers Mumba ‘s lawyers,  Mulambo Haimbe and Jeah Madaika, objected on the ground that the defendants’s application was intended to frustrate the proceedings. And judge Newa refused to adjourn the case, ordering Zaloumis to give her testimony and that the matter would be adjourned at cross-examination stage.

She also ruled that trial would proceed today with or without defence lawyers. In her evidence, Zaloumis told the court that Mutati, who was an expelled member held an illegal convention in May 2016 with Nakacinda, Mwansa Mbulakulima and another who were serving suspensions.

She said Mutati and others then ushered themselves as new office bearers causing a lot of sufferings to the party. Zaloumis said Mutati and others registered themselves as new office bearers with the registrar of societies. She asked the court to nullify the convection that ushered in Mutati as president of MMD and others, adding that whatever proceedings that took place be nullified and that the court should order the registrar of societies to revert the original office bearers and not Mutati and his team.

Hearing continues.

Meanwhile, yesterday President Lungu fired Mutati as Minister of Works and Supply and withdrew his nomination to parliament. According to the PF social media outlet, Smart Eagles, President Lungu has since replaced Mutati with Lunte member of parliament Mutotwe Kafwaya.

“The Head of State says there is no need for speculation on the revocation of Mr. Mutati’s appointment because he has the discretion to fire and hire,” according to Smart Eagles.

President Lungu said the move to drop Mutati, who is leader of a faction of MMD that is supported by former president Rupiah Banda, from his cabinet was necessary.

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