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Melesiana Phiri denies breaching electoral code during campaigns

MILANZI PF member of parliament Melesiana Phiri says she did not breach the electoral code of conduct during campaigns in the run up to the August 12 general election.

Phiri has been petitioned by losing UPND candidate Christine Phiri and independent candidate Rosemary Banda.

The petition is before Lusaka judge Mwila Chibwe Kombe, who is sitting in Chipata.

The petitioners have cited the involvement of foreign voters, distribution of food as some of the grounds for the petition.

Testifying in the matter, Phiri, who is represented by Benjamin Mwelwa of Linus E. Eyaa and Partners said she was not in government during the campaigns.

Phiri said she left ZNBC way back before the campaigns.

She said she did not distribute any mealie-meal during the campaigns.

When asked in cross-examination by the petitioners’ lawyer Gilbert Phiri whether she is aware that chieftainess Kawaza had great influence in Milanzi because her area covers 10 of the 12 wards of the constituency, Phiri said she does not know.

When further asked that if chieftainess Kawaza decides to give support to one candidate then other candidates can be disadvantaged, Phiri said she does not know.

She agreed that she visited chiefs in the constituency and at some point, she visited chieftainess Kawaza with the PF presidential candidate.

Phiri also agreed with the petitioner’s lawyer that traditional leaders were supposed to be non- partisan.

When asked whether she remembers that she was a respondent to a complaint that was lodged to the district conflict management committee by Rosemary Banda which sat on 10 August, Phiri said she was but that she was not told why she was appearing on that list of respondents.
And another witness for the respondent, Ezekiya Ngoma, a PF member, who was part of the district conflict management committee, said the committee invited all candidates and guided them on the dos and don’ts during the campaigns.

Ngoma said the committee received one complaint from Rosemary Banda to the effect that some people were assassinating her character.

He said all the concerned parties were written to adding that the complainant later apologised during the sitting.

Ngoma said the committee counselled the political players to stay well because they were one family.
In cross-examination, Phiri showed Ngoma a letter which Rosemary Banda wrote to the committee to complain about Katete DC Joseph Makukula, Melesiana Phiri and Allan Mvula for character assassination.

Ngoma agreed with Phiri that the three were asked by the committee to stop calling the complainant an “old bone or aged person”.

Phiri also asked Ngoma to read part of the committee’s minutes where Makukula apologised for assassinating Banda’s character during the committee’s sitting.

Ngoma said he was not aware that Makukula was campaigning for Melesiana.

Chieftainess Kawaza’s induna Lazarous Phiri said it was not true that the chieftainess threatened people that whoever would not vote for Melesiana during the elections would have their land grabbed.

Phiri said he heard that there were headmen who testified that the chieftainess was threatening people.

Hearing continues.

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