Saturday, December 06, 2008

PF cadres force their way into High Court lobby during Sata’s court hearing

PF cadres force their way into High Court lobby during Sata’s court hearing
Written by Maluba Jere and Laura Mushaukwa-Hamusute
Saturday, December 06, 2008 4:54:57 PM

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) cadres yesterday besieged the Lusaka High Court lobby as they sang songs and danced in support of party president Michael Sata who had gone to court for a hearing in a case where 26 PF members of parliament have sued him.
The cadres, mostly clad in PF t/shirts and chitenges, pushed their way into the High Court lobby and all the way up the stairs to the courtroom entrance where the matter was supposed to be heard.

The matter was held in chambers but there were other proceedings within the court building.

The cadres sang songs in solidarity of Sata and denounced the rebel MPs, including Kasama Central MP Savier Chishimba who recently reconciled with Sata.

Unarmed police officers had a tough time trying to convince the cadres to leave the court, saying it was not right for them to be singing inside the High Court when other courts were sitting.

“How can you feel if you are working in your office and then some people just came and started singing in front of your offices?” asked an unidentified police officer. “Please go and sing outside. Let's just cooperate. Go and wait outside.”

The police eventually managed to escort the cadres outside but the cadres still continued to sing and dance. When they tried to go behind the court near the chambers, police officers ‘grabbed’ tree branches and chased the cadres with them. But the cadres also picked tree branches, also threatening to whip the officers.

The unarmed police officers asked the cadres to go and wait outside the gate but they refused saying they were very peaceful and that there was no need for the police to use branches on them.

When the cadres made it clear that they would not go and stand outside the gate, some armed police officers arrived on the scene to persuade them to go out but the cadres threatened to start throwing stones and so the officers withdrew and the cadres continued singing and dancing.

Earlier when Savier Chishimba arrived at the court, some cadres sang songs of praise while others openly denounced him.

But Chishimba told journalists that he was happy to have reconciled with Sata because PF could no longer afford divisions.

And addressing the cadres later, Sata thanked all of them for their support and told them not to worry because their lawyers were doing a good job. He urged his members to maintain peace as they await the ruling, which will be made on December 22, 2008.

As Sata gave a brief address to the cadres and was about to bid them farewell, some cadres shouted that mealie-meal prices were too high. Sata responded: “Unga wadula but don't do anything, let's all go home. Go and get on the buses and go home.”

Meanwhile, Lusaka High Court judge Gregory Phiri set December 22, 2008 as the date of ruling in the case where 26 PF members of parliament sued Sata and secretary general Edward Mumbi seeking an injunction preventing the duo from expelling them from the party after they (rebel MPs) resolved to participate in the National Constitution Conference (NCC).

Sata's lawyers and the lawyers for the rebel members of parliament in the matter gave oral submissions in chambers yesterday.

Solicitor General Dominic Sichinga also presented his submissions on behalf of the state, which is the intervener in the matter.

In his submissions, Sichinga urged the court to sustain the injunction being sought on grounds that if the injunction was discharged, the constitution-making process would suffer a set back which would not be atoned for in damages.

He argued that the members of parliament were elected to enact laws and that the core interest of the state was the integrity of a body known as the NCC and the integrity of an Act of Parliament, the NCC Act number 17 of 2007 by virtue of which the NCC was established.

And one of the lawyers for the rebel members of parliament, Mutakela Lisimba, asked the court to grant his clients the relief they were seeking contending that if they were expelled from PF, the injury would be irreparable.

Lisimba said his clients' right to participate in PF politics was being denied and that their membership of parliament was just by the way.

Another lawyer, Mwangala Zaloumis, augmented Lisimba's submissions, adding that the delay in setting the date for the hearing of an ex-parte injunction was occasioned by the defendant's themselves.

But PF's lawyer Bonaventure Mutale asked the court to discharge the injunction that the plaintiff's sought and not to include Matero member of parliament Faustina Sinyangwe in whatever the court decided as she said through her public utterances that she had been expelled from PF even before the injunction in question was being sought.

To corroborate Mutale's submissions, Mumba Kapumpa asked the court to discharge the injunction, saying the plaintiffs would not suffer irreparable damage.

The matter comes up on December 22.

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