By MWILA NTAMBI
THE Kitwe High Court has granted an application by United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema to stay the execution of a bench warrant issued against him earlier this week, pending hearing of an application to set aside the bench warrant.
Kitwe High Court Judge-in-charge Catherine Makungu granted the application yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Justice Makungu rejected an ex parte application by Mr Hichilema to set aside the bench warrant issued against him on grounds that the affidavit was defective and contained extraneous matters and was contrary to paragraph 5, rule number 15 of the High Court rules of the Laws of Zambia.
â€œSince the bench warrant was issued in open court with advocates from both sides present, it is in the interest of justice that all other parties be heard as regards to the application to set it aside,â€ Justice Makungu said.
She also noted that Shamwana and Company are the lead counsels in the matter where the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is challenging the appointment of acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and their co-advocates are from Muleza Mwiimbu and Company while others are from Freddie and Company .
â€œIt is therefore regrettable that they have decided to represent the alleged contemnor. I am of the considered view that they should not be representing him in this case because this constitutes serious conflict of interest,â€ Mrs Makungu said.
She said the best was for the lawyers representing LAZ to remain neutral and advised them to withdraw from representing Mr Hichilema.
â€œFor the foregoing reasons, I reject the ex-parte application and direct the alleged contemnor to appoint a law firm that is not representing either the plaintiff or defendant in this matter,â€ justice Makungu said.
After the court rejected the application to set aside the bench warrant, lawyers from another law firm then applied to the court to stay the execution of the bench warrant until the application to set it aside is heard.
Justice Makungu granted the application to stay the bench warrant and set August 25 this year as the date for hearing.
On Monday, Justice Makungu issued a bench warrant against Mr Hichilema for absconding from court.
In this case, lawyers representing Justice Chibesakunda have asked the court to cite Mr Hichilema for contempt for allegedly commenting on her tenure when the matter is still in court.
Justice Makungu noted that Mr Hichilema has not availed himself before court on both occasions that the matter of his alleged contempt has come up.
She observed that it was a lame excuse for Mr Hichilema to say that he had not personally received the summons because he had appointed advocates who were representing him in the matter and yet he was not availing himself before court.
By MWILA NTAMBI