11 UNIP members sue Tilyenji, other leaders for illegally staying in office, selling party assets

ELLEVEN UNIP members have dragged Tilyenji Kaunda and other party leaders for performing functions of the members of the central committee following the expiration of their term in 2005.

Fackson Njobvu and 10 others have cited party vice-president Njekwa Anamela, secretary general Alfred Banda and administrative secretary Welfare Mfune, seeking an order that outgoing MCCs and the recognised interim MCCs follow the Registrar of Societies’ administrative directive to jointly organise and hold a congress by forming one working group.

In a statement of claim, Njovu stated that the plaintiffs were members and leaders at various levels of UNIP, a political party whose main objective was to form government in furtherance of national values.

Njobvu added that the defendants were also members of UNIP who were elected as members of central committee in 2000.

He contended that Tilyenji was elected president in 2001, while Anamela, Banda and Mfune were handpicked by Tilyenji as vice-president, secretary general, and administrative secretary, respectively.

The complainant said that by virtue of their constitution, every five years the party was supposed to hold a congress which was the supreme decision making body, to elect new members of the central committee.

Njobvu stated that the party held its last congress in 2000 where Kaunda was elected as secretary general and a national council in 2001 where Tilyenji was elected president during a by-election.

He claimed that the mandate of Tilyenji or any member of the central committee ended in 2005 and ever since, no congress had been held to elect new leaders of the members of the central committee.

Njobvu said the based on the that, Tilyenji and others had held positions as MCCs illegally as their mandate expired in 2005 and they have not held a congress to renew their term, or have members of the central committee elected.

He said the four defendants had been holding themselves out as MCCs in their capacity as president, vice-president, secretary general, administrative secretary respectively, without the backing of the law.

Njovu claimed that the defendants had also made decisions that required two/three majority threshhold, including sale of party assets and expenditure.

“The sale of major party assets by the defendants had no blessings of any congress or the party constitution and thus in breach thereof; the defendants have been striping the party assets with impunity,” submitted Njobvu and 10 others.

“The general membership of the party had been deliberately sidelined and excluded from the party activities by not holding the congress in 19 years and systematically, by selling assets without consultations and approval of the congress.”

The complainants stated that the Registrar of Societies had now recognised an interim leadership of the party which should work hand in hand with the defendants as outgoing leaders to hold the congress by December this year.

He claimed that the defendants were unwilling to follow the directive of the Registrar of Societies and that several meetings with the defendants to hold the congress were to no avail.

“The defendants now want to hold a smokescreen congress to legitimise their illegal hold on power and escape liability of abuse of office and sale of party assets.

“The need to hold a properly constituted party congress was a matter of urgency and not negotiable. By not holding a congress for 19 years, the defendants had breached the party constitution and had caused damage to the party through loss of membership and making the once vibrant party irrelevant to the Zambian political and democratic dispensation,” said the complainants.

The 11 are seeking an injunction to restrain the defendants from performing any functions of the party’s member of the central committee, save for those to prepare for congress in consultation with the interim central committee recognised by the Registrar of Societies.

The plaintiffs also want an order that the defendants be compelled to produce a full UNIP inventory of assets and funds within and outside the country, an order for an account of all the party assets sold from 2000 to date, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.

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