Friday, March 07, 2008

Mulyata's case takes new twist

Mulyata's case takes new twist
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Friday March 07, 2008 [03:00]

A state witness in former Southern Province minister Joseph Mulyata’s corruption case has been recalled to explain President Levy Mwanawasa’s alleged involvement in the matter. This came to light yesterday when one of Mulyata’s lawyers re-applied before Livingstone magistrate Edsen Shanduba to recall a state witness to clarify on President Mwanawasa’s alleged involvement in Mulyata’s case.

Magistrate Shanduba has since ordered that a state witness be recalled to clarify conflicting statements on the role that President Mwanawasa is alleged to have played when Mulyata ordered for the irregular release of the impounded bus belonging to Lusaka businessman Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) from the Livingstone weighbridge. This is in a matter in which former Southern Province minister Joseph Mulyata is charged with abuse of office.

Making the ruling, magistrate Shanduba said when he first rejected the defence’s application on Tuesday to recall state witness Edward Ntinda for further cross examination, it was not clear as to why the defence wanted Ntinda recalled.
“It is on record that when he (Ntinda) discussed with Honourable Mulyata, he said that he (Mulyata) told him that he was directed by the President to release the bus. The issue is a serious matter as the President is not a matter in this case. I cannot refuse that he (Ntinda) be recalled so that the name of the President is cleared,” magistrate Shanduba said.

In making the application, Sangwa said: “We would like to rely on the same reasons we made earlier. We would like to submit that through cross examining Mr Chibulu, we have realised there is a conflict that needs to be resolved as to what Mr Ntinda told the court.”

Another defence lawyer Mutemwa Mutemwa said the issue that needed to be reconciled was the allegation relating to President Mwanawasa who was not part of the case.
“If the court disregards the matter, the President’s name would be brought into disrepute. The purpose is to reconcile the witness’ statement and not to discredit him,” Mutemwa said.

But prosecutor Dennis Simwiinga objected to the application saying the defence had not cited any law with regards to the application and had not indicated whether it was an appeal against magistrate Shanduba’s Tuesday’s ruling in which he rejected the same application.

“We agree that the President is not in the dock, he was merely mentioned by a state witness who was extensively cross examined by the defence. Justice as it may be, they have the right to call the President if they so wish. We reiterate that the defence must not use this ground to try and delay the prosecution. It is therefore our humble application that this application should not succeed,” Simwiinga said.

And Anti-Corruption Commission investigations officer Musonda Chibulu under cross examination told the court that when interviewed, Mulyata said he had received a phone call from GBM requesting him to help have his impounded bus released. He said he did not know Mwamba and neither did he benefit anything by securing the release of his (Mwamba’s) bus.

Chibulu said Mulyata told him that he was merely passing the request from GBM to RDA officers at the Livingstone weighbridge because being a senior government official, he knew the statutory requirements which stated that the impounded bus should have been released only after the prescribed fee of US $2000 was paid.
“It is wrong for the minister to go against the law he helped formulate, he should have told GBM that it was not possible to release the bus,” Chibulu said.

And when reminded that it was a Mr Kapinda who released the bus, Chibulu said Kapinda released the bus under extreme pressure from Mulyata.
Chibulu said his primary concern was to establish the manner in which the bus was released. He said according to a report written by Ntinda, Mulyata had ordered the release of GBM’s bus.

It is alleged that Mulyata, who was employed in the public service as a provincial minister for Southern Province, between July 5 and 13, 2007 in Livingstone abused the authority of his office by directing officers from the Road Development Agency to release a Germins Motorways bus registration number GML 06 belonging to GBM that had been impounded for evading the weighbridge without paying the required fine, arbitrarily and prejudicial to the interest of the government of the Republic of Zambia
Trial continues.

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